Fracking safe? Insurance companies don’t think so

11_january_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,312

Monday 11 January 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I think you need to have a word with UK insurance companies. It seems they do not share your confidence that fracking is safe. Two thirds of UK insurers will not insure against fracking damage which could include contaminated water in areas prone to flooding and groundwater contamination. Fracking in areas prone to flood? The very idea is insane.

Whatever evidence you have on how safe fracking is, clearly insurance companies have either not seen it or they don’t believe it and consider fracking a considerable risk. I appreciate that insurance companies are risk averse, they are, after all, not in the business to lose money, but if fracking is so safe, why is the insurance money market not accepting that fracking is low risk?

The amount of fracking fluid left in the ground varies, reportedly it can be from 5 and 90 percent. It should hardly need saying that flood victims do not want fracking toxic waste added to the toxicity of flood waters.

Of course if insurance companies are not prepared to cover fracking risks there are no prizes for guessing who will have to pick up the bill for the clean-up operations – the great British public cash cow.

Given the cuts in flood defences it is looking more and more cynically as if flooding is just another transfer of public wealth into private hands thus adding to the shrinking state, money that would have benefited all were it invested in flood protection is siphoned into massively expensive clean up operations in areas where flooding could have been entirely prevented.

And, of course, no amount of money can begin to cover the personal trauma and distress of those whose lives are devastated by flooding, including the loss of any very personal and precious family mementos.

There have already been earthquakes related to fracking in the UK, and whilst they were fairly low magnitude, typical of earthquakes in the UK, that does not excuse exposing people to such additional risks. Oklahoma, a major fracking area in the US, which historically experiences 2 earthquakes a year above level 3 on the Richter scale, experienced 585 such quakes in 2014 and 842 in 2015.

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” That very much has to include preventable disasters from flooding and fracking.

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