A FRACKING company is back in the spotlight after a family claimed earth tremors caused by test probes left a crack in their walls and sent picture frames crashing to the floor.
Lisa Lovett told shocked Frodsham town councillors how a radiator in her home started to come off her wall and that her chimney started swaying during the terrifying incident.
The mum-of-three said the ordeal began after contractors working for energy company IGas began carrying out sonar-style seismic tests in the area.
Special machinery, which checks for the presence of coal-bed methane in the ground, was positioned too close to her home on Godscroft Lane, she said.
IGas has clashed with anti-fracking campaigners in the Chester area over their plans to drill in several areas around the city, most recently in the Bridge Trafford area.
Mrs Lovett told Frodsham Town Council: “My eldest daughter was in her bedroom and came running down the stairs saying the radiator was coming off the bedroom wall and then photos were coming off the landing wall and they were smashed on the floor – that’s when I realised something was happening.
“I went outside and you could look across the farmer’s fields and that’s when I saw and heard the big machinery. At this point I looked up at our home and the chimney stack was moving.”
In a panicked state, Lisa called her husband home and desperately called the police in an attempt to find help.
“I didn’t know where else to turn. Meanwhile my children were hysterical and they told me there was nothing they (the police) could do,” Lisa added.
IGas representatives arrived at the scene and shut down the machinery operated by contractors.
Mrs Lovett added: “They measured it (the distance from the house to the machinery) and they weren’t 50 metres from our home, they were 37 metres.”
A large crack in Mrs Lovett’s daughter’s bedroom appeared, which she says gave her daughter ‘nightmares’ and forced her to sleep elsewhere in the house because she felt it was unsafe.
“The paint and the plaster were falling off the wall and the size of the crack was unbelievable,” she said. “We couldn’t use either of our showers because the movement had damaged them. We had ornaments out of our kitchen which were broken from falling off our shelves and windowsills.”
Despite tests being stopped immediately, the family are now worried an application to do a 3D survey and a drill for shale in the area could soon be submitted, subjecting them and their home to even further distress.
An IGas spokesman said: “We are aware of a complaint having been made and have been in contact with the property owners in this regard.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further until all the appropriate assessments have concluded.”
Cllr Matt Bryan, a leading anti-fracking campaigner in the Chester area, said this was not an isolated incident.
He told the Leader yesterday: “I’ve witnessed the seismic testing with the trucks and the explosive charges and they cause very large vibrations. They can be very distressing for residents.”