Fracking might be used at Eagle Plains

Northern Cross Yukon might use fracking at their Eagle Plains project, YESAB has confirmed.

Northern Cross Yukon might use fracking at their Eagle Plains project, YESAB has confirmed.

Fracking is included in the company’s project proposal for two wells, said YESAB manager Shelby Jordan, and the company has said it may consider using the method in the next five years.

Fracking involves pumping pressurized water and chemicals into the ground with enough pressure to crack the rock. It is widely-used in other jurisdictions and has contributed to mining booms in the United States. It also raises serious environmental concerns. It has been shown to cause water contamination and earthquakes.

“We’re very concerned about this possibility,” Yukon Conservation Society executive director Karen Baltgailis said. She is not aware of fracking being used in the territory. YCS would like to see a full ban on fracking across the territory. There should be a public process for Yukoners to express their concerns, she said.

Fracking has been banned in the Whitehorse Trough for the next five years.

It’s too early in the exploration process to say if fracking will be used, Northern Cross president Richard Wyman said. The company just started drilling its first well and is waiting for the results of the exploration resource assessment. This process may take the better part of a couple of years. All activities will be done in accordance with Yukon legislation, he said.

The NDP also has concerns about the possibility.

The potential of fracking “actually makes me physically ill,” environmental critic Kate White told the News on Tuesday.

Her concerns came after a citizen alerted the NDP to statements in a July 9 report prepared by Access Consulting Group for YESAB. The 17-page report provides more information about Northern Cross Yukon’s Eagle Plains project.

The report mentions a meeting on June 27 between officials from Northern Cross and the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. “During this meeting, it was determined that hydraulic fracturing need not trigger a new or separate assessment under the Oil and Gas Act and the Yukon Environmental Socio-Economic Assessment Act,” the report says.

But if Northern Cross decides to proceed with fracking, assessments will be required, Jordan said. That section of the report was to confirm if fracking may be used. If the company chooses to not use fracking, another review will not be needed, she said.

YESAB assessed the exploration well Northern Cross is drilling in 2008, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers said in an email.

The project referred to in the Access Consulting report is still early in the YESAB review process, and Energy, Mines and Resources has not issued a decision document or permits for the project, Cathers said. It has not yet reached the point of the process which allows for public comment, he added.

The NDP also raised concerns about government transparency. The report is incredibly difficult to find on the YESAB website, White said. Not only does it take several steps to find, but it also requires users to know the project number to access the information.

Northern Cross plans to drill six wells in the Eagle Plains region by the middle of April, Wyman said, “to fulfill commitments to the Yukon government.”

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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