Press Releases

February 4, 2014

Waste ponds legacy points to cautions of full scale fracking

Contact:  Ken Summers, Kennetcook, Nova Scotia, 902-369-2821

HALIFAX – NOFRAC is pleased that the government of Nova Scotia has finally committed to having an open discussion with the communities impacted by the fracking waste ponds in Kennetcook and Debert. Minister of Environment Randy Delorey knew that he would be facing a great deal of frustration from community members. He is commended for the commitments that he has made, and continues to make, to meet with the communities before decisions are made and to report new information.

NOFRAC agrees with Minister Delorey that the 6 year old ponds and their wastes are a “legacy issue” that needs addressing whatever the course of the larger discussion of whether Nova Scotia should continue the moratorium on shale gas fracking.

Under the previous government, the Department of Environment insisted that it did not need to test for the “proprietary chemicals” used in the hydraulic fracturing process, despite this assessment depending on unsubstantiated assertions made by Triangle Petroleum’s consultants. We were pleased and surprised to find at the Truro community meeting that the Minister ordered tests on all of those chemicals. It is reassuring that none of these chemicals were present in measurable amounts, but the implications for questions on what is to be done with the waste water still need to be discussed with the communities.  We recommend that the government implement a long-term monitoring program of groundwater in the Kennetcook area to assess impacts of these chemicals on deep groundwater resources, and also on shallow drinking water aquifers.

At the Truro meeting, Minister Delorey tried to keep the focus on the test results although some wanted to move into a conversation about what to do with the waste ponds and more general issues and concerns about fracking.  Many in attendance called for a ban on fracking altogether.  NOFRAC calls attention to the fact that this was a case of only three exploratory wells drilled, all with very similar geologies and all using the same limited number of proprietary chemicals. A shale gas fracking industry would be using dozens if not hundreds of different complex chemical compounds even in a single producing field and water and waste volumes would be greatly increased because of the use of multi-directional horizontal fracturing. With the mixture of large volumes of water and chemicals, in addition to the interaction of the relatively unstable compounds used in fracking with each other and with other substances, testing for toxicity becomes an enormous challenge. Even after tens of thousands of high volume hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells drilled in the United States, there is no protocol to enable testing for the toxicity of fracking chemicals used at production scale.

Contact:  Ken Summers, Kennetcook, Nova Scotia, 902-369-2821

For the background story of the Kennetcook waste ponds, please read the 2013 report “Out of Control:  Nova Scotia’s experience with fracking for shale gas”.

 

December 17, 2013

Coalition concerned with review process

Not on track for thorough, independent review of key issues

HALIFAX- In an open letter to the Liberal Government, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC) has set out major concerns with how the independent review of hydraulic fracturing is unfolding.

“Nova Scotians were promised a thorough, independent and scientific review of hydraulic fracturing,  and we don’t seem to be on track to achieve these goals through the current process,” states Barb Harris, River John resident and NOFRAC Steering Committee member.   “Our concerns have increased with the recent appointment of three technical consultants by Dr. Wheeler. These three consultants, one of whom is associated with the petroleum industry, have narrow areas of expertise,  which seems to indicate a review with a narrow focus,  in which health and social issues are not a priority.”

“The Review process as presently set out does not allow the time nor provide a process for more than a cursory, superficial review of hydraulic fracturing — with little or no attention to the specifics of the Nova Scotia context, geological, economic and human,” says Mark Tipperman, Wolfville resident and  Steering Committee member.

NOFRAC is also concerned that there are no public meetings planned as part of the review, and that there is insufficient time for public response at key stages.

“Hydraulic fracturing is a complex issue with impacts that falls under many departments and could affect the province in multiple ways.  It will take longer than the 5 months allowed to truly grasp all of these issues, ” Tipperman adds.

In August, the Department of Energy commissioned Dr. David Wheeler of the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University to chair an independent review of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. The review will include a panel of experts, yet to be appointed, and a literature review of health and social issues. The review, set to end in June 2014, is charged with making a report and recommendations to government.

“The Liberal Party promised the public a moratorium ‘until we can definitively determine that fracking will not harm our resources, our environment, or the general public in any way.’ NOFRAC agrees that careful scrutiny is essential where so much is at stake,” says Jennifer West, chair of the NOFRAC steering committee.  “NOFRAC is calling on the Premier’s office to make sure that this review is able to make a thorough, fair, unbiased, and well-informed decision on fracking in Nova Scotia.”

Full letter to government available here.

Full contract between Department of Energy and Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment available at http://www.cbu.ca/hfstudy

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NOFRAC welcomes expanded, independent fracking review

Halifax, NS — The Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC) welcomes the province’s recently announced independent review of fracking.

“We are pleased that the government has expanded the scope of the review to include social, economic, environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing,” says Jennifer West of the Ecology Action Centre. “This is an important step in ensuring that the wide range of concerns about fracking and unconventional gas extraction are evaluated before decisions are made.”

NOFRAC is also encouraged by the government’s decision to empower the panel to consider all possible outcomes. “This is a welcome step forward from the mandate of the internal review panel which had the stated goal of adopting new regulations based on ‘best practices,’ says Barb Harris, author of NOFRAC’s recent report, Out of Control: Nova Scotia’s Experience with Fracking for Shale Gas.

In a letter to government sent this morning, NOFRAC also outlined a number of concerns and suggestions about how the Wheeler panel will be established and operate.

“At this point, we have no information about what the panel will look like, who will be represented, and whether the public will be able to provide meaningful input into the process at all critical points,” says Mark Tipperman, member of the NOFRAC steering committee. “Our response to government points out the need for a truly representative process considering the fullest range of issues.”

NOFRAC’s response also points out that the issues that the panel will be considering are complex and wide-ranging. Tipperman notes, “We have some concerns about a projected completion date in 2014. We hope that the panel is empowered to take all the time required to evaluate the issues thoroughly.”

NOFRAC also asks the government to clarify that no hydraulic fracturing will take place during the time of the review, and that the government will not grant any new leases for resource exploration or development which might involve hydraulic fracturing during the review period.

NOFRAC is a province-wide association of organizations and individuals who vigorously oppose hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas.

Full response from NOFRAC to government Re: Wheeler Fracking Review Panel available here.

 

August 28, 2013

Expansion of Fracking Review Could be Powerful

The Ecology Action Centre is cautiously optimistic about the announcement of an independent review of fracking in Nova Scotia.  Although many details need to be determined, leadership of the review by an “independent chairperson”, the expansion of the review committee to include external experts, and a broadening of the scope of the review to asses more impacts of this method, are both encouraging.

“we had serious concerns about the previous review- the expansion of the panel and scope is welcome, however we would have liked to see a stronger position, for example a 10-year legislated moratorium on fracking,” states Jennifer West, Geoscience Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre.  “The EAC needs to have more information about the panel before it can fully support it. The composition of the new panel will need to reflect expertise on health impacts, air and water pollution, and municipal infrastructure.  The panel must be given sufficient time and funding to do this review in a meaningful way.”

Geoscience Coordinator Jennifer West sees the potential of this new review, “Using this review, our government could take a stand against fracking and could look back in ten years when all other jurisdictions are suffering dire effects from moving ahead too quickly, and be able to say ‘we took a stand and protected Nova Scotians’.”

 

April 12, 2013

Fracking Report Documents Regulatory Chaos

Coalition reveals dramatic lessons learned from fracking in Hants County from 2007 to present

On April 22, 2013, at the Kennetcook Fire Hall, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC) will release a 38 page report which follows the activities of Triangle Petroleum as their fracking exploration project proceeded from 2007 to the present.  Out Of Control: Nova Scotia’s Experience for Fracking for Shale Gas describes dozens of ways that the provincial government was unprepared and uneducated about this shale gas project, and in some cases put citizens’ health at risk.

“It is appalling that the government didn’t see how complicated and risky this project was.  They continually moved forward without having a strategy for keeping Nova Scotian’s safe,” remarked author Barbara Harris.  “The more I researched what had gone on, the more I realized how many mistakes were made, and the title of the report really indicates that things were out of control.”

“I was shocked to read that the government didn’t realize that the wastewater was radioactive and contained chemicals other than salt,” stated Steve Law, member of the East Hants Fracking Opposition Group.  “This is my backyard and there should have been more done to protect our drinking water supplies from contamination from the wastewater.  What would have happened if the project had moved forward and the proposed 600 wells started to be drilled?  It would have changed our community forever, for the worse.”

The report was developed using thousands of pages of information obtained through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which were provided to NOFRAC from April 2012 to March 2013.  In 2007, Triangle Petroleum was began approvals processes for drilling wells, withdrawing millions of litres of freshwater, using the new and contentious hydraulic fracturing method, and producing and storing wastewater.  The report documents what actually happened in Hants County, what the company did, what government regulators did, how decisions were made, and the lessons which can be learned.

“When I read the report, I was astounded that these things happened just a few kilometres away and that we didn’t know about it,” stated Barbara Gallagher, president of the Citizen’s Action to Protect the Environment located in nearby Summerville.  “All of these communities are connected and share many resources, and this report really spelled out the lessons that can be learned from this poorly planned and monitored project.”

The report will be shared with members of the Kennetcook and Noel communities, where fracking took place, on April 22, 2013 at the Kennetcook Fire Hall.  The author will share her experience of researching and writing the report, and will be followed by a panel of community members giving their perspectives on the report contents.  Media is encouraged to attend.

 

July 4, 2011 

Communities angry with scope of fracking review

Halifax, NS – A coalition of concerned Nova Scotians says the revised scope of the government’s review of hydraulic fracturing is very disappointing. A wide range of concerns were raised in the 279 letters received by Nova Scotia Departments of Energy and Environment, from toxic chemicals in the air to the impact on tourism, but most will not be included in the review.

“How can you review fracking without looking at all the ways it could damage Nova Scotia?” asked Barbara Harris, from the Tatamagouche area.  “People from our community are concerned about the health risks, the potential economic damage to tourism, fisheries and farming and the destruction of our landscape.  The government said no to examining any of these issues.” The government has recently accepted bids for shale gas development, which is likely to involve fracking, in an area stretching from New Glasgow to Amherst along the North Shore.

The coalition criticizes the government for only looking at regulations surrounding fracking, not at the big picture of how the process of hydraulic fracturing will impact Nova Scotia’s land and communities. “This process is not going to answer the important questions about fracking, because the government has decided not to ask them,” notes Ken Summers from the Windsor Block, where fracking has already occurred.

“More than ever, we need a moratorium on fracking until a complete, open, independent evaluation of fracking can determine what the full risks to our province are, and whether it should be allowed,” concludes Jennifer West, co-chair of the NS Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC).  Forty six percent of the public comments on the scope of the review specifically asked for a ban or moratorium, and the vast majority opposed fracking.

 

 

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