Speaking tour in Nova Scotia: Award-winning Canadian journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk says Alton natural gas storage project, like hydraulic fracturing, is a dangerous technology that gov’t has given a pass in an effort to assuage the powerful oil industry

Andrew Nikiforuk on tour in Nova Scotia this week speaking on earthquakes caused by frac’ing and his new book Slick Water.

Tour details

At Acadia to explore the Legacy of Fracking by Wendy Elliott, September 29, 2016, Nova News Now

WOLFVILLE – On Saturday, Oct. 1, join author Andrew Nikiforuk for a stunning examination of Big Oil and government abuse based on his most recent book, Slick Water. Fracking causes water contamination, seismic activity, landscape industrialization and economic ruin.

© File Photo Author Andrew Nikoforuk will be speaking about his fracking study on Saturday at the Irving Centre in Wolfville.

The harrowing experience of Alberta resident Jessica Ernst, he describes, reveals how government and regulators flaunt the law to protect the powerful fossil fuel industry. The landmark lawsuit, alleges that Encana, one of Canada’s largest natural gas producers, drilled and fracked shallow coal bed methane wells directly in the local groundwater supply between 2001 and 2004 near Rosebud, Alberta and thereby polluted Ernst’s water well with enough toxic chemicals and methane to make it flammable.

Slick Water is the 2016 Science in Society Journalism Awards recipient and received honourable mention for the 15th annual Rachel Carson Book Award. Nikiforuk’s previous book, Tar Sands, Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, received the 2009 Rachel Carson Book Award. Slick Water will be on sale.

Nikiforuk will speak at the Irving Centre at Acadia University in Wolfville at 2 p.m. [Emphasis added]

ESS LECTURE SERIES: FRACKING AND EARTHQUAKES: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY Andrew Nikiforuk presents in Halifax at Dalhousie University, September 29, 2016, 7 PM

Andrew Nikiforuk is a provocative Canadian journalist whose writing has earned seven National Magazine Awards, top investigative-writing honors from the Association of Canadian Journalists and the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award. His writings on energy and economics have sparked discussion, shifting attitudes and environmental reform throughout Canada. His most recent book is Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry (Greystone, 2015).

Lectures, Seminars

Starts: Thursday September 29, 2016 – 07:00 PM
Ends: Thursday September 29, 2016 – 08:45 PM

Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building, 6135 University Ave.


Additional Information
Part of the Fall 2016 ESS Lecture Series sponsored by the College of Sustainability.

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Comment to article below on Nikiforuk’s talk on the dangers of Alton Gas:

Normajean Taylor

Not a dull moment. This should be presented to all high schools.

Author warns of dangers involved with fracking, Alton Gas project, Award-winning Canadian journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk says the Alton natural gas storage project, like the process of hydraulic fracturing, is a dangerous technology that government has given a pass in an effort to assuage the powerful oil industry by Francis Campbell, September 29, 2016, LocalXpress

SHUBENACADIE — Canadian author and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has a book full of evidence that points to the inherent dangers of hydraulic fracturing.

And he could add an epilogue about the Alton Gas project and its goal of flushing out underground salt beds with millions of litres of water to build natural gas storage caverns.

“There are definite connections,” Nikiforuk said after delivering a fracking presentation to more than 30 people at the Shubenacadie branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on Wednesday evening.

“In all likelihood, the gas that will be used to fill this facility, if it is built, will be coming from fracked shale.”

Nikiforuk, author of the award-winning book Slick Water, said the process of fracking — injecting a water, sand and chemical mix at high pressure into a well bore to create cracks in deep-rock formations that allow natural gas and petroleum to flow out — is similar to the Alton Gas strategy for flushing out the caverns. Alton Natural Gas Storage LP and its parent company, AltaGas, plan to draw 10,000 cubic metres of water daily from the Shubenacadie River estuary near Fort Ellis and pump it to the cavern site at Brentwood Road to initially build three giant underground storage caverns, each about 80 metres high by 50 metres wide, the size of an average office building.

“It’s a fluid injection of water. You are removing the salt through brine, but dumping it into a waterway is a very crude form of pollution-making.”

Nikiforuk, who has been writing about energy and economics for more than two decades, said the fracking process has been aptly called ‘brute force combined with ignorance.”

He said the industry, the governments that permit it and the regulatory agencies that oversee hydraulic fracturing cannot predict or control where the pressurized water and chemical solution is going after it is pumped underground.

“Industry cannot control the direction of the fracks,” he said.

The pressurized fracking fluid finds the path of least resistance and pushes its ways into aquifers, abandoned mine shafts and any other accessible cracks in the rock. The result pushes dangerous gases, including methane, radioactive radon and carbon dioxide to the surface. Nikiforuk said the levels of those three gases are three times greater in an area where fracking has taken place.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that it takes 10 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil in the fracking process. The waste or produced water is often disposed off by digging injection wells and pumping it back into the ground.

“The more you shake the ground, the more gases will come to the surface.”

Rapid climate change and increased seismic activity can also be expected.

“Methane is rapidly changing and destabilizing our climate and most of it is coming from the oil and gas industry,” Nikiforuk said.

The earthquake activity has increased markedly in areas in which fracking has been prevalent. Nikiforuk said there have been 1,000 earthquakes in British Columbia since 2006, the vast majority of which are the direct result of fracking.

“Oklahoma used to be the most earthquake-quiet place in the United States,” he said of the Midwestern state that has seen a proliferation of fracking activity double its oil production since the start of 2010 from 160,000 to 320,000 barrels per day.

“Now, it’s the place with the most seismic activity.”

Nikiforuk said fracking contaminates groundwater with gases and chemicals.

“It’s all about water, we cannot live without it. It is the mother of us all.”

But when well water and drinking water is contaminated by the fracking process, residents have no place to turn, he said.

“When you have been fracked, there is no after care for lost groundwater.”

Nikiforuk, who now resides in British Columbia, said Nova Scotians have been lulled into a false sense of security by the province’s move two years ago to extend a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in shale formations.

“It’s very weak and very temporary,” he said of the moratorium. “The battle will come back as the price of natural gas goes back up. You need to say No to fracking in its entirety.”

The moratorium does allow for lower-volume fracking along with research and test fracking.

Nikiforuk sees a lot of parallels with the Alton Gas project and the manner in which fracking projects across North America have been given the environmental green light.

“I don’t think the province is being honest at all,” he said. “I don’t think the province even has any full sense of the history of underground gas storage facilities in North America and the history is one of methane leakage over time. Either the leaks are small and they grow or there have been big bangs and explosions.”

Nikiforuk said stringent monitoring is required for a project like Alton Gas.

“If you are putting this gas under the ground, in all likelihood you are going to be increasing the pressure underground and you might have a lot of the ground uplifting. You need seismic monitors in place all around this region, you need intensive groundwater monitoring that looks at water from a variety of depths over time and that has at least two years of baseline data so you know what the quality of your groundwater is. Then you need atmospheric monitoring to determine if and where this methane will come to the surface.

“The responsibility for all that should be with the province but the industry should pay for it.”

Nikiforuk said there are a lot of issues with the cavern site and the brining operation.

“I would agree with the Mi’kmaq that the most substantial issue at this point in time, the first of many, is dumping of brine waste into a river. It’s mind-boggling why this would ever have been approved.” [Emphasis added]

Radioexaminer podcast September 23, 2016. Interview starts at Min. 36.

“If we’re not fracking why are we expanding our natural gas infrastructure?”

Robin Tress, Council of Canadians, provides an overview of developments at the Alton Gas site on the Shubenacadie River.

[Refer also to:

2016 09 20: Nova Scotia: Mi’kmaq Elders work to protect Shubenacadie River estuary, Stand firm against government and against Alton Gas. Science of trouble at Alton Gas project site: Government gave approval for Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas, to release 1.3 million cubic metres of salt into river system over 3 years to create 3 “initial” gas storage caverns ]

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