Water, water everywhere – will there be a drop to drink?
The Whitehorse presentations of Dr. Gilles Wendling (public meeting on Friday night, testimony to the Select Committee on Hydraulic Fracturing on Saturday) have made one thing clear – the damage done to groundwater by hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is irreversible.
Furthermore, such damage is highly likely in the Yukon given the widespread presence of groundwater and the presence of many known fractures in the ground, particularly in the Whitehorse Trough.
The Europeans have employed the precautionary principle in such situations. In short, this principle says that if the consequences of some action are both serious and irreversible, it is up to the proponent to prove that these consequences can be avoided. This has led France to ban hydraulic fracturing despite their need for natural gas.
Water is key to life in the Yukon. Yet little is known about ground water here. And groundwater often ends up, through natural springs, in the surface water – rivers and lakes.
If hydraulic fracturing for shale gas or oil is to be considered for the Yukon, we need to apply the precautionary principle.
Much more needs to be known about our ground water before fracking is even considered.