Speaker’s water figures spill over

Speaker's water figures spill over The Yukon Conservation Society would like to thank the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for contributing to the debate over fracking and energy in the Yukon by presenting a series of speakers. Mr. Kevin Heffernan, President o

The Yukon Conservation Society would like to thank the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for contributing to the debate over fracking and energy in the Yukon by presenting a series of speakers.

Mr. Kevin Heffernan, President of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources, recently represented the interests and opinions of the oil and gas industry at a chamber luncheon.

YCS is compelled to correct a significant error made by Mr. Heffernan in his presentation.

In the part where Mr. Heffernan attempted to placate concerns about water use, he misquoted information from YCS’s website in an attempt to illustrate what he claims is the insignificant water consumption by the fracking industry compared with other water uses.

Mr. Heffernan stated that he learned from the YCS website that the city of Whitehorse consumes 7 million cubic metres of water each month, and that it releases this volume of treated water into the Yukon River monthly. However, the city of Whitehorse’s monthly water consumption is nowhere near 7 million cubic metres, and YCS’s website does not state that it is.

In fact, the city of Whitehorse’s monthly water consumption averages at 360,000 cubic metres – just five per cent of Mr. Heffernan’s erroneous claim.

The 7 million cubic metres of treated waste water released directly to the Yukon River in October 2009 mentioned on our website refers to an exceptional discharge from the Livingstone Trail Treatment Facility to the Yukon River due to Pothole Lake, an additional treatment area, being over capacity.

The water page on our website was part of an education campaign to encourage citizens of Whitehorse to reduce our water consumption, and to remind the public that the water going down our drains contaminated with pharmaceuticals and household chemicals along with human waste, ends up in the environment.

The fracking industry calls its own spent, polluted, and sometimes radioactive water “produced water.” Mr. Heffernan wants us to feel confident and safe because fracking uses “green chemicals,”

although the BC Council on Health Promotion reported in the BC Medical Journal that “an analysis of 353 of these chemicals found that more than 74 per cent could have respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological, and ocular effects; 40 per cent to 50 per cent could be neuro-, immuno- and nephrotoxic; 37 per cent could be endocrine disruptors, and 25 per cent could be carcinogenic.”

Untreated, “produced water” from fracking ends up in the environment, whether it be in surface impoundments or re-injected into the earth, threatening water resources and life into the future.

Mr. Heffernan represents corporations that have a vested interest in the Yukon deciding that the benefits of fracking outweigh the risks. The volume of water required by industry for fracking (up to 135,000 cubic metres per well) is indeed significant, despite his effort to minimize it.

The substantial error in Mr. Heffernan’s presentation calls into question his research and the accuracy of other statistics and statements in his presentation – a presentation designed to try to convince the public, business leaders and decision makers that the controversial, polluting and wasteful practice of fracking is safe.

YCS is not convinced.

Anne Middler

Energy Co-ordinator

Yukon Conservation Society