Government finds methane in drinking water wells in Gaspé, water wells are within 2 km of Pétrolia’s oil wells, one of them reported in 2012 to be leaking methane

Du méthane dans des puits d’eau à Gaspé by Denis-Michel Thibeault, le 4 mars 2014,
Trois ou quatre puits d’eau du secteur Sandy Beach seraient contaminés de méthane. C’est du moins ce qu’avance le groupe de citoyens Ensemble pour l’avenir durable du grand Gaspé et sa présidente, Lise Chartrand. « Ils ont trouvé dans trois ou quatre puits ici autour du quartier Sandy Beach du méthane. Nous depuis le début c’est ce que nous craignions. » Mais d’où provient le méthane contenu dans les puits d’eau potable des citoyens de la ville de Gaspé ? C’est une question qui semble présentement impossible à répondre. La ville de Gaspé lance la balle dans le camp du ministère de l’Environnement encore incapable de nous confirmer la provenance du produit en date de mardi après-midi.

Madame Chartrand s’interroge sur l’échantillonnage du secteur Sandy Beach.  « Ce qui veut dire qu’il y a des gens dont l’eau n’a pas été testée et d’autres qui l’ont été. Ce qui fait que ceux qui n’ont pas été testés se posent des questions ce matin à savoir si nous avons du méthane dans notre eau et en quelles quantités. Pourquoi est-ce que le gouvernement n’a pas fait un échantillonnage, tout le tour dans le rayon de 2 kilomètres du puits horizontal comme les experts le proposait»

Certaines personnes, comme ce citoyen rencontré se questionnent. « Évidemment que c’est toujours un peu préoccupant, surtout lorsque l’on parle d’eau potable les gens ici sont prisonniers des puits artésiens parce que les systèmes d’aqueduc c’est hors de question dans le coin. Évidemment, c’est préoccupant si on commence à trouver du méthane dans les puits. »

Pétrolia n’était pas au courant de la présence de méthane dans les puits d’eau lorsque CHAU a joint la compagnie mardi matin. La porte-parole a d’ailleurs refusée de commenter la nouvelle. Pétrolia nous réfère au ministère de l’Environnement qui détient les informations des propriétaires dont les puits d’eau sont atteints. Le ministère se donne du temps avant de commenter la nouvelle. Le directeur régional Jean-Marie Dionne n’était pas disponible mardi. [Emphasis added]

Methane in drinking water wells in Gaspé Press Release translation March 4, 2014 by Amie du Richelieu of Communiqué de presse by Lise Chartrand, President and spokesperson Comité Ensemble pour l’avenir durable du Grand Gaspé received on March 3, 2014: Du méthane dans les puits d’eau potable à Gaspé
A few Gaspé citizens were surprised to hear tonight during the municipality meeting that methane was detected in 3 or 4 drinking water wells in the Sandy Beach district. When the Environment Ministry employee contacted the Town to advise them, the town told him that he should come meet the citizens and explain to them what is going on. For people who already were afraid of methane, a very [dangerous] gas as we all know, the situation has taken another dimension. Not wanting to provoke a panic, the group Ensemble pour l’avenir durable du Grand Gaspé will start tomorrow to try to find an expert in this field. Also, the board of the group hopes that Gaétan Lelièvre will answer their much repeated request to have all the wells analyzed by an independent laboratory. During the last water sampling, only the wells within a radius of 2 kilometers from the well no 4 were tested along with others that were chosen at random around well no 1, something the Ministry had justified because of lack of funds. How can a government willing to go ahead with such a big project without providing the people water testing, at the very least.

Do the Gaspé people have any value in the eyes of the elected officials? Elections are coming up, and Mr Lelièvre will have a lot to answer for. Mr Côté, Mayor of Gaspé, told us that there was not enough information yet on the source or who would have to decontaminate the oil slick found at the end of Toundra Street, that he still does not have the list of contaminated streams and that he still has no news about the leaking gas around well no 1 one and a half years ago.

To be continued. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Below from Pg 13 & 14 in Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing by Ernst Environmental Services, June 16, 2013

In 2009, Canada’s National Energy Board reported on the shales in Quebec:

Biogenic gas can be found in the Utica in shallow areas, while thermogenic methane can be found in medium-deep and structured shales…. The reservoir has an advantage over others in that it is folded and faulted, which increases the potential for the presence of natural fractures…. Only a handful of wells have been drilled in the Utica, most of them vertical.

A Quebec Ministry of the Environment 2012 inspection report obtained seven months later by the local group “Ensemble pour l’avenir durable du Grand Gaspé” via Freedom of Information admits that natural gas is leaking to surface near the Haldimand 1 Pétrolia oil well drilled in Gaspé. Leaks were detected 43m and 500m from the oil well, and in the field near two government research monitoring water wells. (Similarly, in New York State, documents obtained via Freedom of Information show that State inspectors found a new unfrac’d vertical shale gas well leaking in the Town of Owego and did not advise the public.)

The Quebec regulator has not yet taken samples of the gas at surface or the groundwater for isotopic fingerprinting and has not warned the community of the leaks. The regulator report suggests that the gas could be “biogenic”.

A Pétrolia 2006 press release on Haldimand 1 states:

The well seems to have penetrated an over-pressurized zone of permeable rocks containing gas, salt water and oil.

The Pétrolia website currently claims:

Based on data gathered since 1986, Pétrolia and Québénergie believe traditional production is feasible on the Haldimand deposit. This means hydraulic fracturing will not be necessary.

Company press releases on the website indicate that fluids have been injected, and media reports indicate that frac’ing is required. Pétrolia used Section 25 of the Freedom of Information law to prevent citizens from accessing information on a methane leak detected at an exploratory oil well on Anticosti Island.

In December 2012, the town of Gaspé, wanting to protect its drinking water supply and groundwater, adopted a bylaw prohibiting anyone from introducing underground “any substance that could alter the quality of the underground or surface water” used for human or animal consumption within 10 kilometres of a municipal surface water supply site and two kilometres from any town well.

Pétrolia’s drill sites are about 5 kilometres from the town. In April 2013, Pétrolia “filed a motion for declaratory judgment with the Quebec Superior Court asking that a bylaw adopted by the town Dec. 19 be declared invalid.”


CUPE calls for full drinking water protection in the Gaspésie Peninsula

71 Quebec municipalities defend their drinking water and municipal by laws from possible oil and gas industry lawsuits

Quebec oil and drinking water: Gaspé is getting impatient

Gaspé wants Quebec government to intervene; The Quebec Superior Court agrees with Petrolia, says Gaspé municipality can’t protect its drinking water supplies from the oil and gas industry

Gaspé, Quebec passes water law to stop oil drilling near its wells and homes

La CRÉ dénonce Gastem, calls lawsuit against the small community terrorism, case to be argued on November 18, 2013

Protection of water and drilling: the regulation would not apply for Gaspé

Petrolia asks Qubec Superior Court to rule on Gaspé drilling ban put in place to protect groundwater, Do decisions of municipal councils outweigh drilling rights?

Projects like Haldimand 4 will probably be banned, Gaspé obligerait Québec à trancher ]

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