Spanish coast hit by waves of earth tremors linked to huge offshore gas storage plant
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.
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Space debris orbiting Earth to be destroyed with giant lasers fired from Australia
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 2 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
- 5 Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks
£960 - £1550 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client has been at the forefron...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a leading digital agency bu...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Global leader in its respective ...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...