Wet weather cited as cause of Hants County fracking wastewater leak

Ashley Thompson
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Government spokesperson says risk to environment is 'minimal'

This sign is posted near one of the Triangle Petroleum Corporation’s former fracking sites in Kennetcook. The roadway to the site is blocked by a lock gate.

The latest bout of wet weather has caused fracking wastewater to spill out of holding ponds in the Kennetcook area.

Lori Errington, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Environment, says the department is working with Triangle Petroleum, the American company responsible for the production of the wastewater, to reduce the likelihood of brine water pouring out of the holding ponds again.

“Recent heavy weather events led to the weight of the flexible covers pushing down and causing some of the top level of water to spill out of the ponds,” said Errington.

“The risk to the environment is minimal, as the top levels are largely rainwater and salt water. That said, we don’t want the water spilling into the environment.”

Errington says the covers on the holding ponds will be checked more often from now own, especially in the event of a storm.

The ponds contained about 11.5 million litres of brine water following the fracking Triangle Petroleum conducted in the area in 2009, she added.

“The water in the ponds is largely salt water and rainwater with some residual chemicals and NORMs (naturally occurring radioactive materials) in the water, but concentrated mostly in the sludge closer to the bottom of the ponds.”

She says a substantial amount of melting snow and rainwater have topped the ponds off, and that is likely what leaked into the ground following the spill.

“There is no cleanup as the water ran out of the ponds and into the soil around the ponds. Soil tests were taken as a precaution, but it is not believed there was a negative impact on the environment,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The ponds, which are nearing capacity, can hold about 10 million litres of water.

Nova Scotia Environment maintains that draining the ponds remains a priority.

Minasville resident Ken Summers, a member of a fracking opposition coalition in East Hants, is concerned that the waste that spilled out of the pond could have flowed into a nearby brook that passes several houses.

He says the residents of the communities that neighbour the holding ponds are ready for a long-term solution.

“This is another Band-Aid because there’s no agreed process for dealing with the wastes that are here so they’re still basically making it up as they go,” he said.

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Environment

Geographic location: Hants County, Kennetcook, East Hants

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