Wheatland County (Alberta) Councillors call for Fracking Halt until Protective Methods are Developed

Moves to address frack practices by Shanon McLeay, January 18, 2013, Strathmore Times
Wheatland County councillors submitted their views, in a resolution proposal to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Communities (AAMDC) zone office, regarding the County’s stance on Resource Development in Alberta.

It includes a call to halt Coalbed Methane retrieval and the use of hydraulic fracture practises until protective methods are developed. 

“Subsequent to natural resource exploration and activities, concerns have been received from landowners, reporting a decline in their water levels and contamination of their water wells, including and not limited to sulphur gases. Other residents have reported changes in land formations, opening of natural springs and sinkholes. While there is no proven link between these incidences and natural resource exploration, some residents are of the opinion that “fracking” activities have initiated these occurrences. We need to ensure the protections of our environment and our water – our most valuable natural resource,” Wheatland councillors stated in their member background report. 

Wheatland councillors are not alone in concerns about the current technology used for unconventional oil and gas development.

“The fracturing of deep rock formations with water, sand and chemicals is a non-linear process that can open fractures to freshwater formations, as well as other oil and gas wells. Also, in absence of the public reporting on fracking chemicals, industry water withdrawals and full mapping of the provinces aquifers, rapid shale gas development could potentially threaten important water resources. An example is the Horn River Basin in British Columbia that has a distinctive geology and hydraulic fracturing that has caused rare and minor seismic activity,” they stated. In September 2012, an investigation by the ERCB confirmed operator error in leaking frac fluid, contaminating of a water well in Grande Prairie. In December 2012, similar issues appeared a national study conducted by the US Environmental Protection agency www.epa.gov/hfstudy/pdfs. They found chemicals in wells and ground water close to hydraulic fracturing sites. The final report is set for release in 2014, leaving time for industry response.

Water is the world’s most precious resource and one frac takes up to 7 million gallons of water. The water used comes from the closest above ground source, or underground aquifers. Fresh water, if brackish or saline water is not available. Chemicals are added, or the water absorbs chemicals from the rock formations, leaving the fresh water unusable. Reuse of the water is encouraged by the industry, but it is sometimes impractical. Contaminated water is then disposed of in underground cavities, or sealed in abandoned wells. Public information on chemicals used, or where they are disposed of is not currently available in Alberta, however as of Dec. 31, info will be posted on www.fracfocus.org. The venting and flaring of gas to relieve well pressure increases greenhouse gases, and several studies show health issues like respiratory illnesses result. No provisions by companies or government compensate human disability or animal health issues in flare areas.

Increased evidence of hydraulic fracturing generates seismic activity and causes earthquakes is mounting. In December 2012, the American Geophysical Union www.agu.org supported this. Studies in Oklahoma showed earthquake activity increased in 2011, from one to three a year, up to 250. Fluid injection was as close as 250 metres from the quakes. Studies in BC, Northern Alberta, Colorado, New Mexico, Trindad, and Britain show similar conclusions. Ohio had a moratorium on wastewater injection and only reopened permits with tougher regulation. “The future probably holds a lot more in induced earthquakes as the gas boom expands,” said US Geological Society researcher Art McGarr, in the MIT Technology review.

Many want a moratorium on fracking practises that would allow new environmentally sensitive technologies to develop. One recent innovation is a new gel made of liquefied petroleum gas developed by GASFRAC www.gasfrac.com , which will replace water in fracking operations.
Wheatland councillors state new ways should be developed for resource extraction that would protect the environment. They suggested the government and industry take the following measures:

• Take necessary steps to ensure natural resource exploration doesn’t pose a threat to our environment
Require industry reports prior to the commencement of exploration
• Evaluate geological conditions with a pre and post monitoring for seismic activity
Protect surface and groundwater supplies by imposing a minimum well bore casing depth below aquifer zones.

Wheatland’s recommendations went to the AAMDC District one office for compilation with other southern Alberta municipalities. The district will vote on the resolution Jan. 18, in Lethbridge. If accepted, it goes to the Association head office, who compiles it with other district submissions. A vote at the March Spring Convention occurs by all the membership. If it passes, the Alberta Minister of Municipal affairs receives a copy for response. [Emphasis added]

January 21, 2013

To all of the Kneehill County Councillors,

Please find attached an important initiative by Wheatland County to challenge and halt the destructive process of hydraulic fracturing due to its well documented risks to groundwater in so many areas of the world, including this province. Time is of the essence for all counties, including Kneehill County to put a moratorium on this process. The attraction to quick and easy money for municipalities from the energy industry must be overridden, and the reality of a profound environmental hazard to our essential groundwater must be seen on a more mature level of consideration for the long lasting need for a basic human necessity; drinking water. Please take a firm stand and launch a moratorium on fracking. Should you desire more information, feel free to contact me at any time and we would be pleased to respond with a presentation to Council.

We would also be pleased if your council would inspire other Counties and Municipalities to get on board with this challenge, as poisoned groundwater has no borders nor remedies.

Kevin Niemi
Alberta Surface Rights Group
cc: Directors of ASRG

UPDATE: Kneehill County endorsed the resolution.  It will be presented to the February 8, 2013 Central Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (CAAMDC – comprises 14 central Alberta rural municipalities) Zone meeting. If approved, it will be presented at the Spring Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC – all rural municipalities in Alberta) Convention in Edmonton, March 18-20, 2013.

[Refer also to:

Fiction, Forgery, Fraud Letter by Darryl Roppel to Wheatland County, November 19, 2012, N. Donna Wise.net
Why would EnCana Corporation send water reports to the County of Wheatland with a copy of a Land Usage Authorization Agreement that I never signed? [Emphasis added]

Yours truly,

Darryl Roppel

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

Rosebud Hamlet, where EnCana frac’d the community’s drinking water aquifers, in secret in 2004, is in Wheatland County.

Investigators say an accumulation of gases appears to have caused the 2005 explosion that destroyed the Rosebud water tower and sent a Wheatland County employee to hospital

Inflaming a Conflict, Alberta Landowners Claim Coal-bed Methane Drilling Contaminates their Water. Or Are They Just Reviving Old Rivalries Between Farmers and Industry?

Scientist wants EnCana to be held accountable  “Alberta Environment found methane, toluene and kerosene in the hamlet water. Kerosene is a red flag indicator of petroleum industry contamination. The community’s concrete water tower lid exploded off in January 2005 seriously injuring a worker, months after EnCana fractured the aquifers and diverted fresh water from its CBM. A propane torch was blamed. What if EnCana’s shallow fracturing caused methane to release? What if kerosene caused the explosion? The new water tower cost nearly $700,000. The $150,000 that EnCana promised the Rosebud Theatre (a few months after the first water well went bad) seems a cheap solution.”

Fracking Canada No Duty of Care May 2006 photo Bruce Jack Methane and Ethane Contaminated Water Explosion, Spirit River, Alberta that sent Jack and two industry water testers to hospital with serious injuries

EUB [Now ERCB, soon to be AER]: ‘Men Without Chests,’ ‘No Plan, No Policy, No Heart’ The [Calgary Health Region] repeatedly accuses the board of erring, ignoring or misinterpreting so much evidence that “the board could not properly carry out its mandate to determine the public interest and weigh the social and economic effects of the proposed project.” These accusations have been echoed across the province. [Emphasis added]

Fracking Calgary and Community Voice The Campbells 

Why is EnCana not willing to test our water beyond the minimum standards? by Bill Barnett, in Red Deer AdvocateDrumheller Valley Times and Strathmore Standard, August 7, 2007

WATCH: Cochrane resident Howard Hawkwood worries CAPP’s new fracking guidelines too weak, Alberta rancher says he’s felt many tremors on his property

Fracfocus.ca for Alberta: as of the date of this post, only product names – no chemical ingredients and no volumes – were provided for any of the additives used to frac the one well posted:

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition:
Dec 1 2012 – Dec 3 2012, 08-33-053-10W5 

CARRIER FLUID      TG-740      Not Available
ADDITIVE                 HB-4           Trican Breaker 0.46%
ADDITIVE                 HX-2W      Trican Crosslinker 0.44%
ADDITIVE                 Hg-2           Trican Gelling Agent 0.46%
ADDITIVE                 S-12            Trican Surfactant 0.16% ]

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