Wastewater injection at Singleton threatens to pollute groundwater and trigger earthquakes

The Weald Action Group has objected to IGas’s application for a new Environmental Permit for its Singleton site in West Sussex.

The new permit would allow it to reinject up to 17,000m3 of water a year, with a monthly limit of 2,500m3. The water is produced from oil and gas sites in the Weald, and would contain naturally-occurring radioactive material, known as NORM.

The application is part of an exercise to bring older oil and gas sites under environmental regulations introduced in 2013. IGas is already reinjecting wastewater at Singleton.

The Weald Action Group’s response to the Environment Agency consultation said that that there is a lack of information provided with the application – and provided a long list of missing information which would be required to enable the Agency to properly assess the application.

WAG also said that the proposal would threaten to pollute groundwater, and would risk inducing earthquakes. Our objection included comments on:

Composition of flowback: There is a lack of research on the composition of the wastewater and potential chemical reactions in the subsurface.

Earthquake risk: Underground wastewater injection can raise pressure on the fault lines and can trigger earthquakes. There is concern that seismic activity would damage well integrity and may result in polluting groundwater.

Groundwater: In this area, groundwater vulnerability is classified as MAJOR and the site is in Source Protection Zone 3. Sidetrack wells may traverse through or under Source Protection Zones 2 and 1.

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