“Toxic Thursday”: Protesters Stage Mock Toxic Spill at Fracking Site to Test Response of Regulators, Staff and Emergency Services

Toxic Thursday

Today’s protest outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire was a “Toxic Thursday” themed protest, created to draw attention to a critical safety issue with the fracking industry and question its inability to deal with spillages safely and quickly.

Campaigners dressed in white hazmat suits, to highlight their concern over the lack of regulatory powers and preparation to deal with any emergency situations such as a spillage of any fracking-related fluids. With government-inflicted heavy budget cuts across all emergency services, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service cannot possibly have full awareness of all fluids and liquids being transported and used by Cuadrilla. Full disclosure must be made public.

In 2015, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed via a Freedom of Information Request, that they had not been consulted by Cuadrilla or the government on any emergency response rescue methods, casualty handling, decontamination zones, any special equipment required or emergency procedures relating to the fracking operations in Lancashire.

Research in the USA has shown that toxic spills are widespread (1), correlating with the storage and transportation of fracking fluids. Scientists show that up to 16% of fracked oil and gas wells spill liquids every year. This equated to 6600 spillages over 10 years in four heavily-fracked states

Lancashire Nana and campaigner, Tina Rothery stated:

“Our Local Plan has not been updated to include the specific risks of fracking. Police have been seen surrounding a delivery that was being manually offloaded from one truck to another outside Maple Farm during a protest action. They did not know the contents of the containers. When they were asked, they replied that they were sure ‘Cuadrilla would say if the load was dangerous’. The police stood by whilst the load was transferred.

“Cuadrilla’s employees, along with police and campaigners, are at direct risk if chemicals that are being transported are involved in an accident.”

She asked:

“Do we trust that the people responsible or police on duty, have enough awareness of the risks of the types of materials that will be travelling in increasing amounts on our roads? Do they have the infrastructure to deal with any spillages?”

During the protest, heavy-handed policing methods were in evidence, with several injuries reported. One campaigner managed to mount a HGV that was outbound from the site, which was veering onto the wrong side of the road.