Residents express concern about fracking wastewater from Debert going to cement plant

Monique Chiasson
Published on April 17, 2014


Public concerns were expressed during a meeting with the environment minister this week when it was announced millions of litres of fracking wastewater from Debert will be shipped to Lafarge in Pleasant Valley.

“After considering the community’s concerns and reviewing the tests on the treated water I am satisfied that this pilot project can proceed safely,” said minister Randy Delorey in a news release, which he reiterated at the meeting in Truro.

The government has authorized a pilot project to dispose two million litres of treated hydraulic fracking wastewater currently in Debert holding ponds. Beginning next week, Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) will transport the treated water to Lafarge Canada cement plant in Pleasant Valley, near Brookfield. It will continue for three weeks with three to five truckloads of water being moved daily and will be used as a coolant in the kiln.

“Lafarge will test its equipment before and after using the water for residual inorganic materials,” said Delorey.

About 70 people were at the meeting and many concerns were not eased.

“There is a heavy amount of skepticism … lives could be at stake. Our number one concern is not money; it is our children … (who) will be paying the price,” said Debert’s BJ Tan.

Vincent DeAdder, of Debert, added radiation from the process “will not burn … it will go in the air. We are not going to get anything out of fracking in Nova Scotia except problems.”

Middle Stewiacke’s Ellen Durkee said another concern is the process of reversed osmosis “doesn’t take out heavy metals ... (residuals) won’t fall off in the clinker, it will go up in the steam and over our houses.”

“I’ve been researching this for weeks,” Durkee said, based on an operation in the United States that was shut down.

“Why would I trust you? I don’t believe what you are saying.  This is my life … so Lafarge can make a few extra (dollars) a month. I’m not a paranoid person but I’ve learned not to trust corporations,” Durkee said.

Others were upset the testing process was done through AIS as opposed to the Department of Environment. Delorey reiterated the process was tested and deemed safe by the department.

“I don’t see any significant or major risks associated with that proposal,” said Delorey, adding the pilot project with Lafarge remains a “precautionary” initiative.

Brookfield’s Orland Kennedy said the “worst possible method” of dealing with fracking water is “to find a way of disposing” it because “we don’t want it at all.”

He said the pilot project could “open the door” to others wanting to undertake similar projects in the area.

“The industry will be licking their chops,” Kennedy said.

Delorey confirmed that it is possible for other companies to propose projects in the future. However, he said, that’s not the case now and it would be up to a proponent to apply and the Department of Environment would again have to investigate the proposal.