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NOFRAC: Full scale fracking would dwarf current wastewater problems

Many community members remain suspicious of Department of Environment

by Robert Devet

The fracking wastewater holding pond in Kennetcook.  Photo NOFRAC
The fracking wastewater holding pond in Kennetcook. Photo NOFRAC

K'JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - A press release issued by NOFRAC welcomes provincial Environment Minister Randy Delorey's commitment to continue to talk to the people who are directly affected by the fracking wastewater stored in holding ponds in the Kennetcook area.

Kennetcook is an Northern Hants County community located some 80 kilometers from Halifax.

Delorey made the commitment to continue to talk on January 30th while meeting with affected community members at a hotel in Truro.

NOFRAC is a coalition of organizations calling for a permanent moratorium on fracking in Nova Scotia. The group has been instrumental in keeping the Kennetcook ponds, remnants of exploratory fracking that occurred in that area in 2006-07, in the public's eye.

During the Truro meeting, characterised as "often-impassioned" by the Chronicle Herald, Delorey also announced that fracking wastewater removed from the Kennetcook ponds and treated by Atlantic Industrial Services in Debert was tested and found to be free of proprietary chemicals used in the hydraulic fracking process.

Ken Summers has written on the Kennetcook ponds for the Halifax Media Co-op. He is also the spokesperson for NOFRAC on this issue.

Summers thinks that it will take much more than one meeting with the Minister to offset the suspicion and anger among community members.

"There is a long history with the Department of Environment that hasn't inspired much confidence," Summers told the Halifax Media Co-op.

There are very good reasons for these suspicions, we have had all kinds of underhanded behaviour [by the Department of Environment], all the way to outright lies in the past, so people are not really ready to take things at face value until they have had a chance to look at it," Summers said.

Summers refers to the disposal of 7 million litres of radioactive wastewater through the Town of Windsor's sewage treatment plant into the Minas Basin as just one example of why a healthy suspicion of the Department of Environment is warranted.

Summers also mentions the outright disappearance of 4 million litres of fracking wastewater in 2008 and 2009.

"That not disputed [by the Department of Environment], and there is absolutely no accounting of where it went. It could have gone anywhere," Summers said.

The NOFRAC press release emphasizes that the substantial challenges provided by the Kennetcook wastewater are the result of only a very limited exploratory fracking exercise.

"We had just three test wells fracked here," says Summers. "On a production scale there are hundreds of wells drilled. Where we live, if they had a producing field there would be two hundred to three hundred wells."

And dealing with fracking wastewater would be much more complex in a production context, Summers believes, and not just because there would be so much more wastewater to deal with.

"With the three small test fracks we are dealing with maybe a dozen introduced chemicals in total. On a production scale they use a lot of different receipes, so that goes from a dozen to more than a hundred chemical compounds," Summers says, arguing that interaction between these compounds would introduce a level of complexity that makes testing for toxicity essentially impossible.


Out of Control is a NOFRAC-authored report that reviews the entire Hants County fracking saga. It is largely based on provincial documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

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Topics: Environment
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