Chapter Supports Fracking Disclosure Petition
The NWT Chapter has provided comments on Environment Petition 317, calling for the full disclosure of the chemical composition and volumes of fracking fluids and fracking tailings (produced water) .
January 28, 2014
Government of Canada
Re: Environmental Petition 317
To whom it may concern:
We understand that Environment Canada is currently accepting comments with respect to Environmental Petition 317 regarding the NPRI guidelines for shale gas fracking and in-situ oil sand chemicals. As a citizens’ organization in the Northwest Territories, we respectfully request that Petition 317 be fully implemented for the following reasons.
1. A host of chemical additives and other toxic substances are typically used in horizontal hydraulic fracturing processes.
2. Chemical additives and substances used in hydraulic fracturing include methane, BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes), arsenic, radium, ozone, formaldehyde, radon, nitrogen oxides, methylene chloride, and silica sand. According to available information: “These substances are associated with low birth weight, birth defects, respiratory problems, cancer, and fertility problems… The chemicals used to make fracking fluids are far from safe. Scientists have found that 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer; 37 percent could disrupt the endocrine system; 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems; and more than 75 percent could impair sensory organs and the respiratory system.1”
3. The research on the impacts of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing is alarming and the issue of non-disclosure of ‘proprietary information’ on chemicals is unacceptable. In order to assess environmental and public health risks, full disclosure of the complete chemical composition of the fracking fluids, volumes used, and resulting tailings (produced water) should be a legal requirement.
4. In the event of a fracking fluid or tailings spill or leakage, people, animals, and the environment could be disastrously affected by the chemicals in the fluid or waste.
5. It is a fact that the concrete casings surrounding the drilling wells develops cracks or holes immediately after installation in 5% of all wells drilled. This may allow fracking fluids, tailings, methane, or oil to leak into underground aquifers, seriously contaminating them. There are many reported cases in Canada and the United States of fracking fluids/wastes and/or methane contaminating people’s well water and underground aquifers.
6. Here in the NWT, in the event of a spill or leakage into muskeg or northern waterways, there is no proven way to clean up the ensuing mess.
For these reasons, we support Petition 317, particularly its request that:
“…companies be required to report substances released through: a. Using fluids for hydraulic fracturing in wells to extract shale gas On the NPRI by revising the NPRI reporting criteria so that these activities are captured.” We would add that the same requirement should apply to hydraulic fracturing to extract shale oil. However, we do not believe that Environment Canada’s decision to “Make no changes to the NPRI reporting criteria specific to hydraulic fracturing activities; and continue assessing new information as it becomes available to determine if additional reporting may be appropriate in the future” is adequate. We strongly suggest that Environment Canada require full disclosure of the chemical composition and volumes of fracking fluids and fracking tailings (produced water) at this time – without delay, and before more and more unknown contaminants are released into our northern environment.
Lois Little and Peter Redvers
Co-chairs, Council of Canadians, NWT Chapter