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Provincial regulator abandons unreclaimed Cogmagun well site

Oil industry self regulation in Nova Scotia falls short

by Ken Summers

Provincial regulator abandons unreclaimed Cogmagun well site
Provincial regulator abandons unreclaimed Cogmagun well site

Last month the Halifax Media Co-op brought to light an abandoned oil well site in Hants County that after 11 years has never been reclaimed.

The answer to resident Kimm Kent's basic “Who is responsible for this?” question is clear. Triangle Petroleum, of fracking fame in Nova Scotia, has responsibility for the Cogmagun oil well reclamation that is required by law.

This in turn raises the question of where has the regulator been for 11 years? Is there any documentation to establish whether the Department of Energy has been aware of the situation at the Cogmagun well site, or whether it has taken any steps to ensure that any of the series of companies with responsibility met Nova Scotia's requirements to reclaim the site?

The simple answer is that there is no documentation because there has never been any regulatory oversight of whether well site reclamation is done.

In a series of queries put to the Department we gave the regulator every opportunity to provide evidence of initiating oversight on well reclamation.

Nothing.

Cogmagun resident Kimm Kent who brought the abandoned sight to our attention is surprised at this news. “Who knows what is at the bottom of that big steel tank, and in those tailing ponds with the torn plastic liners? I doubt that it is just water in there.”

In fact, drilling muds used in all wells have higher concentrations of toxins and heavy metals than do fracking fluids. And drilled material brought back out of the well bore has the same potential for radioactive material as was found to exist in the Kennetcook fracking waste ponds. All of these substances bind with the sludge found at the bottom of tanks and tailing ponds, such as have been left at the Cogmagun site.

The Department of Energy does say more attention is paid to the removal and capping of the wellhead to secure the abandoned well against leakage.

It will be interesting to see if there is any documentation of actual oversight of the capping and securing of the well, when Kimm Kent gets the results of her Freedom of Information application. Kent and other residents are looking into other nearby abandoned well sites that are also rumoured to be without any reclamation.

Asks Kent, “When is the Minister of Energy going to make Triangle Petroleum go in there to clean this up? And when is our government going to make sure this site is safe?”


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