Spanish coast hit by waves of earth tremors linked to huge offshore gas storage plant

 

Madrid

Thousands of Spanish homeowners on a 200km stretch of Mediterranean coastline have suffered a month of sleepless nights after a wave of minor earthquakes. Many people, including the country’s Minister of Industry, say a massive offshore gas storage plant could be to blame.

More than 300 earthquakes, some of them as strong as 4.2 on the Richter scale, have struck the region of northern Valencia and the southern tip of Catalonia, which is not known for seismic activity. More than 20 quakes struck on Wednesday night alone.

“First the bed started moving, then the furniture and then the whole house. All the dogs in the neighbourhood wouldn’t stop barking,” Pietat Subirats, from the coastal town of Alcanar, told the newspaper El País. Another resident, Emilio Valls, said he called the local police “and they were as scared as I was”.

Mr Valls’ first thought, he said, was that the earthquake could be connected with the Castor gas storage plant, 22 kilometres off Spain’s coast. The plant, owned and operated by the Spanish company Escal UGS, is designed to hold 1.3bn cubic metres of gas in a depleted oil reservoir 1.7 kilometres under the sea and send it via a pipeline to Spain’s national grid.

Last week the government suspended all attempts to continue filling Castor, which already contains 100 million cubic metres of gas. And today, the country’s Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister, José Manuel Soria, said on Spanish radio that “there would seem to be a link… between the storage of gas and the mini-earthquakes that have taken place.”

Luis Suarez, president of Spain’s College of Geologists, went further: “The injection of gas has provoked the increase of seismic activity. Now it has stopped it can be expected that tensions in fault lines will ease and earthquakes diminish in intensity.”

Other geologists were less certain. But whatever their cause, the tremors have awoken grim memories of the earthquake in the town of Lorca, which killed nine people and injured 100 in May 2011 – particularly as some scientists linked that quake to excessive local extraction of groundwater.

Recaredo del Potro, head of Escal UGS ,told Spanish radio that activity at the plant had been “radically halted” and that investigations had begun. Asked if the plant could be made safer, he said: “We’re dealing with forces that are infinitely superior to anything mankind can apply or control.”

A protest against Castor was planned in the region for tonight.

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week