Concerns over shale gas tests in Lancashire

Cuadrilla Resources' shale gas rig near Kirkham in Lancashire
Image caption The tests will determine how much shale gas is trapped below the ground

Concerns have been raised over the safety of a controversial drilling technique being used by a company testing for shale gas in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla Resources has drilled a hole on land near Kirkham to determine the scale of shale gas reserves there.

The next stage involves breaking the rock up with water and chemicals to release pockets of gas.

Opponents will hold a public meeting in St Annes this weekend, but Cuadrilla insists there are no safety issues.

'Safe manner'

Blackpool's Green Party Chairman, Philip Mitchell, has said the process could be dangerous.

"In America there have been examples in which the well has had to be blown out and explosive liquid has spilled out onto the ground, which causes a fire hazard and pollution hazard," he said.

"The pollution has many different ways of getting into the ground, gas is dissolved in water and can find its way into the water course."

Cuadrilla's executive director, Dennis Carlton, has admitted the technique has caused pollution in parts of the United States, but said the procedure in Lancashire will be safe.

"There have been isolated cases where there have been potential contamination of shallow water aquifers," he said.

"In those cases there wasn't proper well design, and also the execution of the actual drilling process was inadequate.

"There are hours and hours and days and days of preparation time to make sure that the correct job will be conducted in a safe manner."

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