Sustainability network alarmed over fracking plans

Frank Gale
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Company proceeding in safe and responsible manner: president

STEPHENVILLE — Members of the Bay St. George Sustainability Network are alarmed Shoal Point Energy is planning to commence fracking at its Port au Port Peninsula drilling site within the next few months.

Bob Diamond, network chairman, said this is taking place despite assurances from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) of a thorough environmental assessment with public consultation before any decision is made on the controversial hydraulic fracturing.

He said the network has expressed concerns to CNLOPB regarding Shoal Point Energy's recent submission to the Offshore Board requesting an extension of the scope of a 2007 environmental assessment to facilitate "proposed near-well bore stimulation (fracking) activities."

However, George Langdon, president of Shoal Point Energy, said the company is transparent in what its doing and readily admits the rocks in the area they are exploring have to be treated with stimulation, and this means hydraulic fracturing.

The company has a joint venture partner, Black Spruce Exploration, which will be the driller/operator of up to four wells this year, with the first in April or May.

Langdon said fracturing has been identified as necessary to remove the oil from the wells in the Green Point Shale Formation located next to Shoal Point under Port au Port Bay. He said hydraulic fracturing is utilized all over North America and other parts of the world and even the state of New York is allowing it in some areas and a conservative jurisdiction of England is giving it a start, from which a lot of onshore gas will come on-stream.

Diamond noted Shoal Point Energy held three public meetings in western Newfoundland in the Port au Port, Bay of Islands and Bonne Bay areas in November 2012 to present its oil and gas exploration and development plans, including its intentions to use the fracking process at all three locations.

He said the Bay St. George Sustainability Network was informed by the CNLOPB that these public meetings were not Environmental Assessment Public Consultations, but were conducted by that company on its own initiative.

“The public should be given the opportunity to take part in an informed decision making process where they also have access to other science based information regarding the social, environmental and economic impacts of the development — information which should be independently researched and compiled — not paid for by the proponent or others in the oil industry,” Diamond said in a letter to the CNLOPB.

He feels the public meetings organized by Shoal Point Energy and its document requesting an amendment to the Environmental Assessment of the Port au Port Exploration Drilling Program falls far short of the requirements for a thorough environmental assessment.

Langdon said the amendment to the environmental assessment that Diamond was referring to doesn’t only deal with hydraulic fracturing, but with a large portion of the drilling operation. He said a large component of it relates to how the company would deal with spills if they occurred.

Langdon said the company has planned a small-scale operation and exploratory work for this year, which it hopes will lead to an application for a significant discovery licence.

He said the company wants to be a leader by proceeding in a safe and responsible manner by using carefully tested and controlled fluids that are mixed in with the oil, then removed from the well.

“The rock we are dealing with is impermeable and remains impermeable,” Langdon said. “The good thing for the area is that this operation will be labour and material intensive, and with success could provide a lot of jobs on the west coast of Newfoundland in the future.”

Diamond said fracking technology is very controversial because of its negative environmental and health impacts, with many governments around the world implementing moratoriums or bans on its use. He maintains there are significant environmental and health impacts from fracking including contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, and surface contamination from spills and flowback.

He encouraged the general public to contact the CNLOPB, members of the House of Assembly and the premier regarding concerns pertaining to this issue.




Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Offshore Board

Geographic location: Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland, North America New York England Bay of Islands Bonne Bay

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Recent comments

  • KrystleDarc
    January 13, 2015 - 19:45

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  • Kris
    February 11, 2013 - 17:27

    “The rock we are dealing with is impermeable and remains impermeable,” Langdon said. What is the proof that these rocks are impermeable and will remain impermeable in high pressure hydraulic fracturing stimulation? For anyone who has walked the shores of western Newfoundland you can see with your own eyes faults and cracks and folds in the rock... even vertical cracks. Won't those fracking fluids and oils seep up those vertical cracks into the waters of the Gulf and into the surrounding rock and soil on land? How will this impact our natural environment? What proven controls can be put in place so this does not happen? If no proven controls can be put in is it safe to even frack here?

  • marie clay
    February 08, 2013 - 21:29

    Those of you who think trading your drinking water for the posibility of a few jobs should read "hydrofracked" by Nicholas Kusnetz,also read what happened in Pennsylvania.Make an imformed decision.Jobs aren't worth much if the environment is destroyed.

    • david
      February 09, 2013 - 12:29

      Those of you who think cars are so great should read my upcoming book: "Killer Cars". It chronicles all the morst horrible accidents and deaths on public highways, and gives the death totals by region in Canada. And the appendix in the back includes colour photos of various graveside markers on rural highways. And all for a "few jobs" for people to build cars, sell cars, fix cars, and put gasoline in cars. I predict you'll give up driving altogether and start walking everywhere. Ha.

  • realwestcoaster
    February 07, 2013 - 17:58

    Hey David, you're being too kind with that percentage. I can't understand anyone trying to prevent progress in such an economy deprived place without knowing all the facts. Where were all these enviromentalist when the mill in Stephenville was spewing toxic sludge and chemicals into bay for thirty years or spewing toxic smoke into the air? Let me guess! you ,your brother, or son worked there; but that was okay. I believe AMAZED said he does the Alberta turnaround. Maybe someone should inform him of all the toxins he's working in so he can get the hell out of there. I hear Walmart are looking for greeters in town. Do people not see the hypocracy in these statements. Why do you think Alberta is booming like it is? ...because they're willing to take risks and with risks comes rewards. Please don't tell me it's not worth the risk because there's not one poster on here that don't have a family member or friend working in the oil patch which is the only thing keeping our economy going.

  • Devil's Advocate
    February 06, 2013 - 11:31

    Poison everything around you for a few jobs, Frack off!

    • david
      February 07, 2013 - 13:12

      No facts, no evidence, no research...just mindless, emotional BS and it's case closed. So enjoy your 20+% unemployment, your $1.40/L gas, and of course your self-righteously, extra-delicious water that was never in any jeopardy. Bullet dodged!

    • Devil's Advocate
      February 07, 2013 - 17:08

      Ah... David the troll, not expired yet I see. I am 100% employed and drive a new 4 cylinder. Samuel Joseph said enough for me, except for what I added. by the way David, you can Frack off too.

    • david
      February 09, 2013 - 12:32

      A personal attack from an internet bully. Compelling point.

  • Samuel Joseph
    February 02, 2013 - 11:55

    Fracking involves pumping a cocktail of toxic chemicals mixed with water and sand as deep as 2.5 km (1.5 miles) into the earth. The high pressure effectively creates mini earthquakes that break up rock and release gas. The type of gas that fracking retrieves is found packed tightly in shale rock deep underground. Before fracking, this gas was impossible to retrieve, but as natural gas sources become increasingly scarce, more dangerous methods of recovering gas, such as fracking, are being used. Depending on the kind of fracking fluid used, hundreds of chemicals may be used as additives including: A toxic soup •acetone •ammonia •benzene •chlorine •diesel •formaldehyde •hydrochloric acid •kerosene Some of the chemicals in the flowback fluid include: •arsenic •bromide •cadmium •cyanide •lead •mercury •nickel •radium Water quality concerns In order to break up the rock more effectively, additives are added to the fracking fluid. Some of these ingredients are relatively benign, but others are dangerous (see above for examples). Much like a perfume’s secret list of fragrances, the exact combinations and amounts of chemical additives in fracking fluid are considered trade secrets and are therefore not revealed to the public. Without this information, it’s impossible to analyze the exact impact the fluid has on the environment. If these chemicals leach into the environment, they can contaminate clean drinking water. Substances naturally found underground, such as radioactive elements, heavy metals, and gases, can also pose a threat to health. It’s possible that these substances are disrupted by the fracking process and can then make their way into drinking water sources. Once fracking is completed, the fluid flows back to the surface. According to the National Energy Board, water that has been used for fracking shale gas is typically injected deep into the earth in order to dispose of it. It can also be recycled and used at another fracking well or be taken to a treatment facility. Water treatment requires extensive space and resources because of the amount of chemicals the waste water contains. However, not all the fluid is disposed of; only 15 to 80 percent of the fluid from shale gas is recovered. Like the fracking fluid, this “flowback” also contains high concentrations of chemicals (see above). A recent study by a group of Cornell researchers concluded that fracking is worse for the environment in terms of greenhouse gases than conventional sources of gas and oil. They estimated that methane emissions from shale gas production are at least 30 percent higher than conventional gas production methods. Given the amount of water and chemicals used, it’s not surprising that fracking accidents such as spills and leaks can, and do, occur. These cause environmental damage to groundwater aquifers and drinking water, create air pollution, increase carbon dioxide emissions, generate wastewater disposal problems, and lead to the loss of farmland and wildlife habitat. Anti-fracking crusaders Despite these concerns, fracking received little publicity until American filmmaker Josh Fox made the documentary Gasland. After an energy company offered him money so they could drill on his family’s land, Fox became curious about fracking and set out to learn more about it. The result was Gasland ( Because of Fox’s film, fracking is perhaps most well-known in the United States. However, fracking is also occurring in Northern BC, Alberta, and Eastern Canada. Drilling in Two Island Lake in Northern BC, dubbed the “largest frack in the world,” drew attention to fracking in Canada in 2010. After fracking occurred near her home in Rosebud, Alberta, Jessica Ernst could light her water on fire. This can occur when the methane content of water is too high. Underground sources of methane may be released by the fracking process, although methane may also come from a natural source—decayed organic matter located near the earth’s surface. She has filed a lawsuit against the energy company Encana for water contamination. “Most of my life I’ve tried to live healthy, not just healthy foods, but also by living rurally,” says Ernst, “and there I was, bathing in toxic chemicals.” The oil industry denies that fracking is the cause of high methane content in drinking water. Ernst believes that although filing a lawsuit is both difficult and intimidating, it will be worthwhile even if she does not win because of the attention she has brought to the issue. As she says, “I understand what I’m up against and believe I’m already victorious.” One of her main goals, she explains, is mandatory disclosure of the exact chemicals used in the fracking process The future of fracking It’s difficult to determine the future of fracking. In early 2010 the EPA announced it would launch a formal investigation into fracking’s impact on drinking water. Their draft plan was released just over a year later, and interim results should be ready in 2012. The results of this study may impact fracking in Canada as well as the United States. However, the problem is far from resolved, as those in the oil and mining industries continue to defend the process, claiming that the pros outweigh the cons. Nevertheless, Fox’s documentary has spurred an outpouring of anti-fracking activism in Canada. (The Canadian group Stop Fracking in Nova Scotia, for example, was inspired by Gasland). Across the country, citizen groups (see below) are taking matters into their own hands and organizing against fracking in their communities. Anti-fracking activists recently held a 600 km (372 mile) month-long march to Montreal to protest shale gas. Furthermore, Quebec has ordered a moratorium on fracking, while some New Brunswick citizens and First Nations leaders are calling for an outright ban. Individual efforts can make a huge difference. Ernst urges all Canadians to act before fracking occurs in their area. Once fracking begins, she explains, it becomes much more difficult to fight. Signing petitions, contacting your local MP, and telling others about fracking are all simple but important forms of activism that anyone can engage in. Ernst suggests writing open letters to local politicians and sending copies to local newspapers so all residents can learn about the issue. “Water is much more critical than gas or oil. We can do better,” proclaims Ernst. In the quest for more energy, there’s no need to put our health and the environment in jeopardy by prioritizing gas over drinking water. Our voices shall be heard The Kitpu First Nation Mi'kmaq community base out of Port au Port will be dealing with concerns and dicussions about Fracking in that area. If you know about Fracking or want to give your support. All peoples are welcome and to Contact:: Chief: Jerome Young...................709 643-4856 wikuom (home) Vice-Chief: James Young.............709-642-5462 wikuom

  • Citizen
    February 01, 2013 - 19:34

    What is the true unemployment number on the Port aux Port. Not just the people collecting ei but those on the dole. Could anything that gives the chance of a high paying job in an economically depressed area be that bad. The excuse that the jobs go to highly trained non locals doesn't fly. If you want it the training and opportunities are available to get those "expert" jobs. Those "experts" were not born with the titles they have, they earned them.

  • JM Marsden
    February 01, 2013 - 15:16

    My initial response, and maybe the one that best describes my demeanor these days is, "are we out of our fracking minds"... just the very thought of hydraulic fracking on the west coast or discussions about whether we 'should or should not' allow exploratory drilling in the Corner Brook supply is completely outrageous... According to many experts, the shale gas industry has made a habit of overstating fracking's benefits and understating its risks. It likes to point only to economic benefits, which are mostly isolated and temporary, while ignoring a rising number of reports of broken industry promises, harm to local communities, and air pollution and water contamination. We cannot afford to ignore these reports. We cannot afford to sit idly by and allow industry and misinformed politicians to make adverse and idiotic decisions for the sake of short-term economic gain. If we don't take steps to safeguard our water resources, air quality, and public health, the harm we would suffer would far outweigh the purported economic benefits associated with fracking. I think it was George Carlin who once said when talking about the planet: "there are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls".

  • Kathy
    February 01, 2013 - 09:43

    What I find most frustrating about the threat of fracking here on the west coast is the oil company misleading the general public who live here with the promise of jobs.It is so not fair because, as Amazed pointed out, the majority of jobs will be available only to the most highly skilled and trained top engineers and technicians who have spent years in the industry, NOT to most of us who live here. As Amazon also said, most of these workers will come in, frack, make their money and leave. And LEAVE those of us who live here with the negative impacts to deal with forever after. What we want to ensure is that a strong environmental assessment is properly done, strict rules and regulations are in place to protect our air, water and environment.There's billions of barrels of oil out there... it's not going anywhere.There's NO reason to rush into fracking without all the safeguards in place first.

  • amazed
    January 31, 2013 - 21:32

    I agree with Mr. Diamonds and his groups concerns ... Real westcoaster needs to look up what the pros and cons of this process can do. I am from the Port au Port area - have a home there and live out in the tarsands,, not all who live in Bay St George area will GET the lovely job or income you think is coming. all you gonna get is increased property values and taxes.. they will bring in people to work -- make their money and run. Fracking can bring to the surface toxic gases.. yellow, greenish -yellow clouds and many other colors of a rainbow- the nasty smell will kill off more than your plants.. Maybe the old saying is TRUE ,, " MAN WILL DESTROY HIMSELF" .. let this group make greedy morons do more research before we destroy what we have . Lets hope somebody will exercise a measure of common sense.. something many lack using far to often.

  • real westcoaster
    January 31, 2013 - 21:07

    hey lady, wake up! you can have all the fresh air you want but without jobs or an economy these so call children's children will be working, living and breathing the polluted air in some other part of Canada...including mine!

  • real westcoaster
    January 31, 2013 - 06:58

    Never heard of Bob Diamond, never heard of this sustainability group. They're drilling in Port Au Port, so let the people of PORT AU PORT decide whether it's a good idea or not. We don't need anyone speaking for us and maybe...just maybe if this project turns out to be viable it might turn this welfare town (all of the west coast) into a town with a future for our kids. By the way bob, what exactly are you sustaining?... the UNEMPLOYMENT rate.

    • Marjorie Robertson
      January 31, 2013 - 20:27

      I am living in Kippens and I am deeply concerned about this controversial fracking process. I have read the 15 page amendment submitted to CNLOPB and I am concerned about spills or accidents that WILL occur as hundreds of trucks parade noisily down through Kippens Road to Shoal Point..I am also concerned about toxic gases released through flares into the pristine air and caught by the prevailing north westerly winds toward far reaching communities, mine included. Waste holding tanks and possible seepage into groundwater and transportation of waste disposal is a concern for ALL of us. The Shoal Point site is the first of a major exploration that will continue with many more fracking sites all the way up to Cow Head through beautiful Gros Morne. This affects all of us!!!! So called economic viability must be weighted against risks. It is a myth that junior mining companies create a lot of local jobs. Process of fracking will require highly specialized workers who will be brought in. You have never heard of Bob Diamond. He is a very concerned citizen who often speaks in defense of the environment and we are all fortunate that he alerts the public to potential hazards. Bob Diamond is trying to preserve the environment for all our children's children. The air we breath , the fish we eat, the water we drink is to be cherished and sustained.