Fearful of fracking

Fearful of fracking On Aug. 15, I watched CBC's Nature of Things on fracking. I was so shocked and stunned that I took the following notes. Gas well pads are everywhere in the United States. In Erie, Colorado, wells were drilled beside schools, daycares,

On Aug. 15, I watched CBC’s Nature of Things on fracking. I was so shocked and stunned that I took the following notes.

Gas well pads are everywhere in the United States. In Erie, Colorado, wells were drilled beside schools, daycares, seniors homes, hospitals. Parents who were interviewed thought that if the well was so close, it must be safe! EnCana, a Canadian energy company, drilled a well 600 yards from an elementary school. Kids starting got serious nosebleeds when foul odours were smelled from the well compression stations.

Testing found that carbon disulphide was present in the air around the school as well as high VOCs (volatile organic compounds – carbon gases that contain gases and vapours).

Mothers fought back and organized a Mother’s Day rally to ban fracking and demanded EnCana stop drilling as their Mother’s Day gift. But EnCana said, “What about the people who own the mineral rights?” and continued fracking.

Colorado has a setback of 350 feet from wells. Yet, a Science of Environment Study found “unsafe concentrations of VOCs during fracking within a half-mile radius and seven times that distance was still unsafe. The mothers wondered, “Why did the burden of proof lie on them?”

The last straw for a father was when his son got a massive nosebleed in the middle of the night. Now, families are trying to sell their houses.

The government sells land mineral rights to an oil company. The landowner has no bargaining power, no say – the oil company comes on your property, drills a gas well or tunnel in any direction, meaning the gas well could be under your house.

Water used for fracking has 750 chemical compounds – many are carcinogens and poisonous. There have been many well-casing failures where methane contaminated drinking water. Wells located near gas wells are 15-20 times more likely to have methane in the water… the water from the gas wells can flow upwards to contaminate drinking water and migrate to contaminate ground water. Over six per cent of wells develop leaks in walls that were designed to be sealed.

Trillions of litres of fresh water are taken away from our water system for fracking. Alberta farmers are outraged.

The water is so poisonous after fracking that it has to be pumped deep into the earth. They are now suspicious that deep water pumping possibly causes tremors – in the Horne River basin north of Fort Nelson, there has been earthquake after earthquake.

We are left with unanswered questions about the hazards of fracking, yet governments in B.C. and Alberta are pushing ahead. In eastern Canada they are not. In Yukon, the government is considering fracking.

As asked in the documentary -“What is the potential for water contamination of our drinking water?”

“Can we afford to remove trillions of litres of water from our water cycle?”

What do we do with all the poisonous water?

Jan Slipetz

Whitehorse