Provincial study deems Debert fracking water safe for disposal

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO – A study of treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater in Debert states it is safe for disposal.

A provincial study into the wastewater at Atlantic Industrial Services was released at a public meeting in Truro Jan.30. Approximaely 80 people gathered to hear the results, which stated the wastewater meets Health Canada and the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines to be released into water.

“The tests … show that the wastewater poses a minimal risk to the health of Nova Scotians and our environment,” said Environment Minister Randy Delorey, adding the tested material was flowback wastewater from 2007 and 2008.

The minister said while the wastewater is safe for disposal, no action will be taken until the department gives final approval. No date was indicated.

Tests were carried out at Becquerel and Saskatchewan Research Council labs for naturally occurring radioactive materials. The waste was also tested for sodium chloride and general chemistry at Maxxam Analytics in Halifax and for proprietary chemicals at Precision Petroleum Labs Inc. in Houston. Precision is the only lab in North America that conducts such tests, said Delorey.

Despite what Delorey said, the response from the crowd was frustration, disbelief and distrust.

Alex McDonald of Shubenacadie said there should be no compromise.

“We do not want any fracking. We do not want your dirty water and we will do everything in our power to stop it,” McDonald said.

Shortts Lake resident Lydia Sorflaten said more extensive testing is required.

“Your testing is totally incomplete. We have a problem with cancer in the world, endocrine … and reproductive problems. We will not be happy until we know more,” said Sorflaten.

Other community members wanted to know if Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield will be allowed to accept the wastewater.

“Lafarge is not approved to accept wastewater,” said Kathleen Johnson, an environmental engineer from Pictou County.

“But if the wastewater meets standards for fresh water, Lafarge wouldn’t need industrial approval to receive wastewater,” confirmed Delorey.

Delorey was also asked if he was prepared to ask the government to place a ban on fracking.

“No. The commitment is to let (an) independent committee complete its work without interfering,” he said.

Delorey said he understood people’s frustration but encouraged them to look ahead.

“What is done is done. It’s not about experimenting but looking at the issue and step-by-step trying to find a solution.”

There are about five million litres of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in Debert, and nearly 20 million litres of wastewater, mixed with rain and melted snow, in two ponds in Kennetcook.

Most of the wastewater in Debert has been treated to remove naturally occurring radioactive materials, salt and chemicals.

Test results, which were taken during a period of time and at different water levels, and summar documents are online.


Organizations: Atlantic Industrial Services, Health Canada, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Becquerel and Saskatchewan Research Council Precision Petroleum Labs

Geographic location: Debert, Truro Jan.30, Nova Scotians Halifax Houston North America Shortts Lake Brookfield Pictou County Kennetcook

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Recent comments

  • cecil condo
    January 31, 2014 - 15:01

    if treted water from n.b. is safe then why pay the Town of DEBERT to dispose off why not n.b. from it came from ?an how meney yrs.dose it take waste water not !