Jury still out on whether fracking affects drinking water; Alberta regulator reported Gasfrac’s deep fluids contaminated fresh groundwater near Grand Prairie

Jury still out on whether fracking affects drinking water by David Israelson, August 22, 2013, The Globe and Mail
We are still learning about what it means to inject millions of litres of water into the earth to unleash unconventional gas. Here in Canada, a comprehensive, independent scientific report on water use in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other unconventional operations is due any day from the not-for-profit, respected Canadian Council of Academies. 

“More than 40 per cent of fracking fluids get left in the ground and we know little about their mobilization or fate,” says Andrew Nikiforuk, an Alberta-based author and expert on energy and the environment. “Fracking is underground mining and a good example of non-linear chaos. Man-made fractures can connect to natural fractures in unexpected ways.”

The not-for-profit Science Media Centre of Canada says that between one and eight million gallons (up to 36 million litres) of water are used in each fracking well, and even when the used water is left in the earth, no studies prior to the U.S. Department of Energy study had looked at what happens to this underground water. There are also wide discrepancies in the amount of used water that comes to the surface after a fracking operation – between 15 and 80 per cent of the injected water, according to the Science Media Centre. The centre notes that, consistent with the new U.S. study, no well water contamination has been traced directly to deep fracking water…. “It should provide us with well-researched data,” says Adam Goehner, technical analyst with the Calgary-based Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank. With the information about water so tentative and preliminary, companies such as Gasfrac Energy Services Inc., based in Calgary and Houston, Tex., see a strong future for technologies such as their use of gelled propane, which Mr. Nikiforuk concedes does minimize water use. Other companies are working with different compounds, such as mixtures of carbon dioxide and nitrogen to lessen the amount of water injected. … “It may minimize water use. But it may still contaminate groundwater,” Mr. Nikiforuk says. “Frack fluids that minimize water usage are a bandage on a ruptured artery.” [Emphasis added]

[Reality check: Alberta Innovates and the Council of Canadian Academies are funders of Science Media Centre of Canada, snaps below taken from the centre’s website on August 22, 2013:

2013 08 22 snap from Canada Science Media Centre showing Alberta Innovates previously the Research Council as funder

[Alberta Innovates violated the law when it refused to release public investigation and testing data by the regulator and Encana that was used by Alberta Innovates (previously the Alberta Research Council) and regulator to dismiss the dangerous and toxic drinking water contamination cases in Alberta. Not only did Alberta Innovates break the law and cover up damning public data collected by Encana and the regulator, Alberta Innovates grossly over charged Ernst, apparently with intent to punish her for asking for groundwater pollution data.]

Patrons ($5,000 – $9,999)

2013 08 22 snap from Canada Science Media Centre shows Council Canadian Academies as patron, funder, questions council's credibility

[Refer also to:

Oil workers suffer burns in blast by Canada’s Occupational Health and Safety Magazine, March 2011. Three GASFRAC Energy Services Inc. employees were transported to an Alberta hospital with burn injuries following an explosion and fire on January 14 [2011]. At about 5:30 pm, the employees of the Calgary company were performing gas fracturing

Husky well fire injures several Alberta workers About a dozen workers were injured after a “flash fire” burst out from an Alberta natural gas well owned by Husky Energy Inc. RCMP reported that 12 workers were hurt…. No deaths have been reported, although three people were sent to an Edmonton burn unit. … Bob Curran, a spokesman with the Energy Resources Conservation Board, said the fire burst out as workers were setting up to begin the underground fraccing. Mr. Curran said the well was to be fractured using propane, a technique that has already injured three other workers this year. In January, Gasfrac Energy Services Inc. said a propane leak at one of its work sites created a “short fire.”

Hydraulic fracturing with gelled propane by Gasfrac/Crew Energy Inc./Caltex Energy Inc. contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB Investigative Report and groundwater monitoring by Alberta Environment

Stock slides as GasFrac parts ways with top managers, Waterless well stimulation company promises to repair financial woes ]

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