Alberta to consider testing water near fracking sites, Energy companies are not required to test water quality even though the ERCB knew a decade ago that hydraulic fracturing in Alberta was causing serious damages

Alberta to consider testing water near fracking sites, Energy companies are not required to test water quality by CBC News, April 5, 2013
The Alberta government is considering expanding its mandatory water well testing program to include areas near fracking activity. Currently, the program tests water quality for gas sites that use the coalbed methane extraction method, which was popular several years ago. However, it does not require water quality testing at sites where oil and gas are extracted by fracking. “Right now, the program does not apply to those particular types of activity,” says Steve Wallace, a groundwater policy advisor with Alberta Environment. “However, we are certainly considering expanding our [coalbed methane] requirements to hydraulic fracking.”

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers recommends that any water wells within a 250 metre radius of fracking sites be tested for water quality but companies can choose whether or not to do this.

Nielle Hawkwood lives near Cochrane and says she no longer drinks the water at her ranch. “Our eyes are irritated, our nose is irritated, I’ve lost a lot of hair,” she says. She lives near fracking sites and is concerned that chemicals may be leaking into her well. “The chloride levels are really fluctuating,” Hawkwood says. “This is untreated well water. We are wondering why there are chlorides at all.” She has hired an independent testing company but the firm can’t search for all the chemicals involved in fracking. Her husband, Howard Hawkwood, says he is concerned about the effect his livestock’s drinking water will have on them. “I have no idea what it does to their meat, their quality,” he says. “Reproductive system is a major issue because right now we’re calving.”Wallace says that a group of experts from across the country is studying the issue and will present their recommendations to Alberta Environment later this month. “We’ve lived here for 32 years,” says Nielle Hawkwood. “We’ve always assumed our water was wonderful and fresh and clean, that the air was fresh and clean, and now we have serious doubts about that.”

[Refer also to:

Snap above from Alberta Environment’s Final 2006 Template for Baseline Water Well Testing for CBM (Sands and Shales excluded) completions above the Base of Groundwater Protection. Testing for BTEX, metals, dissolved gases, and frac, drilling and servicing additives not required.

Optional listing of BTEX removed in Alberta Environment’s Updated 2012 Template for Baseline Water Well Testing for CBM completions above the Base of Groundwater Protection.

The two snaps above are from the Alberta Environment’s 2012 Template for Baseline Water Well Testing for CBM  (Sands and Shales still excluded) completions above the Base of Groundwater Protection. Baseline testing for BTEX, metals, dissolved gases, and frac, drilling and servicing additives still not required.

Snap above from Alberta Environment’s Final 2006 Template for Baseline Water Well Testing for CBM completions above the Base of Groundwater Protection. The Alberta Government only accepts testing overseen by members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGGA, changed later to APEGA). Much more qualified and experienced experts, such as PhD Chemists in charge of water testing labs, are not accepted to supervise sampling by members of APEGA, even those that lack water sampling experience and training. This remains unchanged in the 2012 Template.

December 2007: Development of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Alberta Environment (AENV) and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB, now ERCB) to enhance collaboration for the protection and management of groundwater

Alberta’s “Best in the World” ERCB, 2012: “No Duty of Care to Landowners and Groundwater”

Front Page Spring contaminated after fracking in Mountain View County, Alberta landowner wants answers

Standard for Baseline Water-well Testing for Coalbed Methane / Natural Gas in Coal Operations Effective May 1, 2006:
Coalbed Methane (CBM) developers must test all active water wells either flowing or equipped with a pump, and observation wells in the provincial Groundwater Observation Network within a minimum 600 metre radius of a proposed CBM well prior to drilling a new CBM well or re-completing an existing well for CBM production where the completion will be at a depth above the Base of Groundwater Protection. … AENV and the EUB expect industry to identify those situations where unique geological or topographical conditions, or landowner concern warrant testing at greater distances or more than one well in the 600-800 metre radius.

EUB [now ERCB, soon to be AER] Bulletin 2005-33, December 9, 2005: Shallow Fracturing Operations: New Requirements, Restricted Operations, and Technical Review Committee Incidents of shallow fracturing operations impacting nearby oilfield wells have been reported to the EUB. … The EUB has recently met with most major coalbed methane operators and service companies to discuss their fracturing practices, including program design. These discussions have indicated that design of fracture stimulations at shallow depths requires improved engineering design and a greater emphasis on protection of groundwater [Emphasis added]

Original Directive 027, Shallow Fracturing Operations—Interim Controls, Restricted Operations, and Technical Review January 31, 2006
The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB/Board) has approved this directive on January 31, 2006, original signed by M. N. McCrank, Q.C., P.Eng. Chairman
Information provided by industry to date shows that there may not always be a complete understanding of fracture propagation at shallow depths and that programs are not always subject to rigorous engineering design. … Effective immediately, licensees must not conduct fracturing operations at depths less than 200 m unless they have fully assessed all potential impacts prior to initiating a fracturing program.

EUB Directive 027: Shallow Fracturing Operations-Interim Controls, Restricted Operations, and Review by Jim Reid, Manager, Alberta Energy and Utilities Board
Increased development at ever shallower depths.
Increased Fracture volumes, rates and pressures.
Increased public concern on water well protection.
Lack of regulatory control on fracture design. …
Number of reported incidents of communication at nearby EUB licenced wells

Source: EUB (now ERCB, soon to be AER) Library, about 2005

Source: Letter signed during the Interrogation of Ernst on June 8, 2006 in Calgary by EUB [now ERCB, soon to be AER] lawyer Rick McKee; the deal offered was Ernst would receive energy regulation (a duty of care), if she no longer spoke to media or in public about EnCana fracturing the Rosebud drinking water aquifers and accepted that the dangerous contamination in her water was natural.

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