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A study of Lithuanian shale – is it hazardous to the environment?


“As Lithuania was preparing for the exploration of shale resources and intends to produce hydrocarbons from them, it first had to make sure that the shale itself was not toxic. This is why we tasked geologists with doing research,” Vice-minister for Environment, Daiva Matonienė, said.

The Lithuanian Geological Survey under the Ministry of Environment (LGT) tested samples of rock with shale and found that the heavy metal levels contained in them presented no hazard to the environment. The samples were taken from rock at different depths of at least 1.2 km.

A certified Canadian laboratory was chosen to analyse the chemical composition of the samples. Based on the findings of analysis and on the effective environmental requirements for managing areas contaminated with chemicals, LGT found that the only limit values exceeded in shale were those of molybdenum (1.66 times), which apply to areas used for the production, storage, processing and loading of petroleum as well as to other industrial areas with low sensitivity to pollution. The limit values for copper (up to 4.5 times), arsenic (up to 1.8 times), uranium and selenium (up to 1.6) and vanadium (1.17 times) were exceeded in the individual samples of shale rock. Such increased levels of these elements exist in any fossil fuel: coal, lignite and petroleum.

According to Daiva Matonienė, the Ministry of Environment aims to collect a maximum amount of reliable and detailed information about Lithuanian shale and to make it available to the public to rule out amateur interpretations and speculations. Quite a few meetings on the issue have already been held with researchers and community stakeholders and more will be arranged in the future.

Public information division
29 October 2014

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas