People living close to a gas drilling site near West Newton have blamed exploratory drilling operations of a Canadian energy firm for a nauseous smell, which authorities have urged to solve as soon as possible.
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Speaking to the Guardian, a resident living few hundred metres from the site has defined the smell as “hideous, very distinctive, pungent and nauseous”.
The smell has been blamed on the drilling operations of Rathlin, which is currently exploring the area in search of gas and oil. The firm has said that the smell has nothing to do with the tests, and is not methane nor is it additives, but instead is the “composition of naturally occurring fluids within the well formation”.
A firm’s spokesman said, “There has been a slight odour associated with our ongoing testing operations. Our work continues to be monitored by our own people and the regulatory authorities. The odour is not hazardous to health.”
The Environment Agency has been informed and conducted an inspection to the site and urged the company to work to solve the issue as soon as possible.
“The company is now undertaking urgent work to solve the problem. Operators are required to comply with their permits and the Environment Agency can, and will, stop operations if there is a risk to the environment,” it said.
Rathlin obtained a licence to explore West Newton site in search of conventional oil and gas and made clear that its operation did not involve fracking or testing for shale gas.
However, the company was met with criticism and protests when it began its operation in the area, with protestors blocking the site entrances in July.
Activists also set up a protest camp in another Rathlin’s site in Crawberry Hill, for which the company went to court in order to regain possession of the place.
Photo: Tim Evanson via Flickr