The process of extracting natural gas from underground sources could pose a real threat to the World Heritage Site of the famous Roman Baths of Aquae Sulis in Bath, England. Concerns were raised by Bath and North-East Somerset council, who fear that test drilling pockets of shale gas using a method known as “fracking” could harm the spings.
Shale gas is natural gas produced from shale (a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud and a mixture of flakes, clay minerals and tiny particles). Shale gas has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United Kingdom.
Fracking is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, by means of a pressurized fluid, in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction. The fracturing, known colloquially as a frack job is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fluid, such as water, creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of fossil fuels.
Bath and North-East Somerset council announced that two companies were applying to Mendip district Council for permission to test drill for gas using this highly controversial method. The practice of hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally due to concerns about environmental and health safety, and has been suspended or banned in many countries including parts of the United States.