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Regulator announces €3million fines for fracking safety breaches

Companies engaged in any potential fracking will face stiff penalties including jail if they do not comply with regulations.

The Lough Allen basin is one of the areas that has been identified for potential fracking
The Lough Allen basin is one of the areas that has been identified for potential fracking
Image: dusi_bbg via Flickr

COMPANIES ENGAGED IN any potential fracking for shale gas in Ireland will face fines of up to €3million if they break safety rules, the energy regulator has announced.

Anyone involved in breaching the regulations could also face a jail sentence of up to three years.

Environmental activists have repeatedly raised concerns over the safety of fracking, which involves pumping water and chemicals into underground rock formations to force gas out.

The Commission for Energy Regulation yesterday unveiled its new Petroleum Safety Framework, which will apply to all companies extracting oil and gas in and around Ireland.

As well as fracking, the rules will also be imposed on extraction operations at the Kinsale gas field and the controversial Corrib operation, where natural gas extraction is yet to begin.

Energy firms will need a safety permit from the CER before beginning oil or gas production, or drilling new wells. Once a permit has been issued there will be “extensive CER monitoring” of the operation, the regulator said in a statement.

CER Commissioner Garrett Blaney said the new framework was “a significant milestone in providing for a robust regulatory system in petroleum safety.” He added:

The CER is confident that the new Petroleum Safety Framework provides a strong regulatory basis for a petroleum exploration and extraction industry in Ireland which is safe and is fully in accordance with best international safety practice.

The full report on the safety framework was compiled after receiving more than 130 submissions from interested parties.

Read: EPA fracking study reveals potential impact on groundwater and earthquakes>

More: Everything you ever needed to know about fracking>

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Michael Freeman

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