Colchester approves fracking water disposal in county sewer system, but Mi’kmaq chiefs want more information

Concerns raised over fracking water disposal, Critics not convinced that fracking water pilot project successful at removing contamination by CBC News, March 28, 2013
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well bore to split the surrounding rock and release trapped hydrocarbons, usually natural gas, coal bed methane or crude oil. People are raising concerns about the disposal of fracking waste water in Colchester County after municipal staff gave the green light to put the water through its sewage treatment system. Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau said the decision comes after a pilot project designed to remove radioactive elements was completed. “We’re pleased with the progress of this particular pilot project and I want to assure the public this meets the federal guidelines,” he said. Belliveau said the project has been successful in removing radioactive materials from the water but Andrew Younger, the Liberal environment critic, remains skeptical. “We have not seen the tests on what the water contained when it went into the system and we haven’t seen tests that show what the level of contamination is when it comes out of that system. That information has to become public,” said Younger.

Jennifer West of the Ecology Action Center agrees. “All of the communities along the Shaganoy River all along the Minas Basin and Bay of Fundy and all of the ecosystems — the fish — all of the animals living in these areas are at risk and we need to be aware of that. It’s not just us,” she said. … Concerned citizens have until April 10 to appeal. If they do, it will then be up to council to make the final decision.

Colchester approves fracking water disposal in county sewer system, but Mi’kmaq chiefs want more information by Michael Gorman, March 27, 2013, The Chronicle Herald
The Municipality of the County of Colchester has approved a request to discharge hydraulic fracturing waste water in its sewer system. Atlantic Industrial Services of Dartmouth has been storing 4.5 million litres of the waste water at its Debert treatment facility. The province granted permission for that waste water to be treated for radioactivity and also granted permission to the company to bring in an additional one million litres. The municipal approval, effective May 26, was issued subsequent to an application and analytical information to support it.

Mayor Bob Taylor said the company has shown that the process can be completed within provincial and federal health guidelines. The municipality recently beefed up its sewer-use policy, giving it the opportunity to hear appeals and prevent the discharge of materials if council sees sufficient concern. “We do have bylaws in place to deal with this and council can make a decision to overrule,” said Taylor. Concerns have been raised because the waste water contains naturally occurring radioactive materials. But company officials have said their facility, one of the most advanced in the country, can safely treat the waste water and sample testing has met government guidelines. At a recent council meeting, general manager Andre Lachevrotiere told councillors that before the company accepts any waste water, transport trucks are parked and the contents sampled to ensure the facility can treat the material. All monitoring results are shared with the provincial Environment Department and the municipality, Lachevrotiere said. The public has until April 10 to file appeals. One group likely to so do is the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs. Chief Gerard Julian, co-chairman of the assembly, said the chiefs want to know what is in the water and how, if at all, it may affect the environment. The group has not yet contacted the municipality.

“They’re not talking about a small sample or a small amount of waste water,” Julian said. “We’ve heard similar stories before. … It would take quite a bit to convince us to allow this type of thing.”

The assembly may request its own environmental assessment, he said. Julian said he is also concerned that this is happening while the province is still reviewing whether to permit hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. [Emphasis added]

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