Say no to fracking at Shoal Point

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Dear Editor: As concerned citizens of Kippens we are distressed and disturbed that Shoal Point Energy is asking for an amendment for approval to start hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at Shoal Point on the Port au Port Peninsula site as early as April, 2013.

Fracking is a controversial drilling process involving the injection of thousands of litres of water and chemicals underground at a very high pressure in order to create fractures in the shale rock to extract the oil and natural gas.

It is our understanding that the Canadian Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board would oversee and endorse public consultations, as part of an organized and thorough environmental assessment before granting an approval for hydraulic fracturing to take place.

We understand that the meeting conducted by Shoal Point Energy in Piccadilly on Nov. 13, 2012 was not endorsed by the Canadian Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and therefore, not a valid public consultation.

At best, it was an information session with no true consulting, or public forum taking place as there was very little publicity concerning the meeting. The media was not present due to inadequate notice. There was no independently researched science-based information delineating the pros and cons or comprehensive discussions on the environmental impacts to human health.

Having read the 15 page ”Amendment to the Environmental Assessment of the Port au Port Bay Exploration Drilling Program,” we have many serious concerns. Presently in Newfoundland and Labrador there are no provincial or regulatory guidelines in place for hydraulic fracturing. Shoal Point Energy has included in their amendment a vague list of “typical” additives, yet leading hydraulic companies use over 750 compounds in their fracking fluids, of which 650 are known or possible carcinogens.

Some are even radioactive — see “Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing” 2011 by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, available online.

George Langdon, CEO of Shoal Point Energy stated in his interview on the CBC Morning Show, Jan. 29, that, “I am not a chemist and I don’t know exactly what all these things mean on their own.” In response to the question about the chemicals used during fracking, Langdon said, “It’s very correct to have concerns about these things.” These comments are not very reassuring and add to our alarm.

We have great concern about possible exposure to toxic or radioactive chemicals that can be transported up to the surface from deep underground and held in containment ponds on site. The risk of cracks or spills and the possibility of seepage into the ground, therefore polluting groundwater is very high. This is especially valid considering the heavy rains, storms and high winds we often get on the west coast. The amendment did not adequately address the manner in which toxic wastewater will be treated or disposed of.

Shoal Point Energy vaguely mentioned the use of tanker trucks to transport the fracking waste fluids with no mention of the disposal destination.

There was little discussion on the heavy use of these noisy tanker trucks carrying hazardous chemicals or toxic waste water through our communities, over our already heavily used roads. With the elevated risk of spills or accidents, this should be a major worry for all of us.

We would like definite answers that are not addressed in the amendment as to where the chemical waste will end up.

Also, there was no discussion of fire concerns if accidents do occur and the ability of volunteer firefighters to handle toxic waste and emissions on or off the fracking site.

The resulting pollution from the release of methane gas and other airborne toxic fumes from gas flares would be another significant environmental hazard that would impact on human health. The huge effect on tourism, and our fragile ecosystem was not  discussed in the amendment.

Valuable local areas, such as the Gravels Walking Trail, in Port au Port West, are in close proximity and will be negatively affected by the fracking process. Tourists and residents alike love this trail for its scenic coastlines. Many locals and visitors use this trail to keep fit and stay healthy all year round. A full scale fracking site in view, complete with flare stacks, will negatively impact this scenic vista. How sure are we that the fishing industry in Port au Port Bay will not be affected by horizontal drilling underneath the marine bed? How sure are we that all marine and coastal wildlife will be protected? How sure are we that the lobster spawning grounds in Port au Port Bay and the salmon runs up Fox Island will not be negatively affected? Shoal Point Energy has yet to address these concerns.

When other provinces are banning and imposing moratoriums, or reviews on hydraulic fracturing and other countries are doing the same, we should all be scrutinizing this controversial process very closely. With the prevalence of “boom and bust” scenarios that is often associated with junior oil and gas companies, economic viability may not be as promising as the companies are expounding.

According to the Shoal Point Energy amendment, “... the number of jobs available to local residents would be limited to the drilling rig personnel and local contractors and that the majority of jobs during the exploration phase would be filled by external contractors.”

Does limited economic viability justify the very high risks to our health, our water, air and quality of life? The magnitude of the issues around fracking need to have the attention they require. Anything less would be morally wrong and totally irresponsible.

We feel the risks are too high.

The deadline for the amendment approval is Feb. 11. If you are concerned, please contact: Max Ruelokke, mruelokke@cnlopb.nl.ca.; your local MHA and Premier Dunderdale.

Kathy Marche and Marjorie Robertson, Kippens

Organizations: Canadian Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Dear Editor, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy

Geographic location: Kippens, Port au Port Bay, Port au Port Peninsula Piccadilly Newfoundland and Labrador Port au Port West Fox Island

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Recent comments

  • Marc
    September 26, 2013 - 02:55

    I am a Fracker and I laugh at all the idiots who are against it. Come with me on a frack and youll return home knowing its alot more safer than what your led to believe. Canada has very tight environmental guidelines and restrictions for fracking companies to meet with regards to "ingredients" used. If you havent been on a frack in either way, shut your piehole.

  • Gordon Adams
    February 11, 2013 - 13:05

    People in NL need to come out united against this practice. Fracking is environmental suicide. Even if we accept all of the other associated problems with water use, surface pollution and air quality, we have to also accept that a certain number of well liners (something like 6% according to the Suzuki program) fail and allow the entire contents of the well to mix with the water table. That's a better than 1 in 20 chance that your town will become completely, absolutely, and immediately unlivable. Fracking, like DDT, will be banned altogether once the word gets out. Right now the oil companies are working the legal loopholes, hurrying to get their profits out of it before people wise up and the tide of public opinion turns. This has no place in NL and should be stopped today. I just wrote the NL petroleum board, who is supposedly responsible for overseeing this stuff. You can too at: mruelokke@cnlopb.nl.ca

    • david
      February 11, 2013 - 16:52

      Well, that's it then. Gordon Adams has arbitrailiy and without any facts classified the entire concept of fracking as "environmental suicide", and akin to DDT. Nothing else needs to be said. Thank you Gordon. Just one other nagging thing to clear up, before we put this to bed for good....do you have any facts, references or research that isn't from either David Suzuki, the lecherous (that bit makes me kind of ill) godfather of shoddy, selective, tainted "research", designed to reach pre-conceived conclusions, or any other thinly-disguised, end-justifies-the-means crowd of self-absorbed, completely lost activists? Anything at all?

  • Christine Gordon
    February 10, 2013 - 20:33

    Fracking should be banned completely! Bill C-45 should be repealed or amended to replace the protection of our water.

  • Striebs
    February 10, 2013 - 11:48

    I can understand that if someone has gone into the wilderness to get away from civilisation then would be pretty peeved when a discovery is made which would bring lots of people in . All I ever hear is emotive words like "devastating" and "controversial" yet scientific studies and post frac' monitoring of water show that where the geology is suitable and proper precautions are taken hydraulic fracturing is safe . When people cite the out of date , discredited , fabricated entertainment movie gasland I wonder whether they have to sleep with the lights on because they are afraid of the dark . As for not having any regulations , there are already have regulations governing the treatment and disposal of formation water produced from oil and gas wells and chemicals which can be used . The "haliburton loophole" has no relevenence outside the U.S. and competent companies have no problem disclosing the chemicals used in wells on a per well basis on their websites . Society needs this oil and the tax revenues from it to provide social security amongst other things .

  • Sammy Joe
    February 08, 2013 - 20:18

    I really do not understand why should this be even a debate or even more research of the world of the facts. Gasland & Shatter Dreams shows the air pollution caused by the practice. And the soil. The danger not only to humans, but ecosystems and countless species. So IF it also contaminates water, for any reason…3 strikes and you’re out. Not to mention the wasting of precious water resources in the “fracking” alone. 4 million gallons a frack, contaminated and unavailable for drinking, bathing, or agriculture & Fisheries. Not to mention the waste water that pollutes even organic crops and is used to hydrate our Wild Life ,fish, Insects and Livestock. This is our Island. The fat cats have gotten away with murder long enough. We need a consensus. They own the equipment. And the devastating technology. And the brass ba88s to be drilling in pristine places. And here in Shoal Point all with the promise of some free or discounted gas, and a few palms greased. Bypassing residents and lining the pockets of small amount of certain peoples. And our government and these companies are one-in-the-same. Halliburton loopholes. Deregulation. Utter disregard for private property rights and human life, let alone the health of our Bay. No amount of money will replace the necessities of clean air, soil and water. You don’t sh*t where you eat. Don’t Frack where we live of the land and sea. This is my home. When there is nothing . There is no life and We Die.

    • Shawn
      February 09, 2013 - 09:19

      " And here in Shoal Point all with the promise of some free or discounted gas " ...that not even one resident of Shoal Point or anywhere in Newfoundland will ever benefit from. Accessing these oil deposits in this manor only serves to further the bottom line of oil producing corporations, nothing more.

  • david
    February 08, 2013 - 13:50

    David Suzuki....at that, I knew that your post would not have anything worth reading. Real timesaver.

    • Paul White
      February 08, 2013 - 17:42

      Intelligent response, David. Have you done any research into hydraulic fracturing yourself? Your biases toward Suzuki notwithstanding, this is a global issue with health concerns being the most troubling. Since employment for locals is going to be limited, why not stand up and ask some serious questions on behalf of the people and incredible ecosystem of western Newfoundland? If you don't have time for that, I'm not sure what your motivation could be.

    • david
      February 11, 2013 - 19:20

      David Suzuki is a fraud. A CBC-weaned cancer on genuine scientific endeavor and advancement. He is an egomaniac who lives a complete lie, living in the opulent lifestyle and luxury afforded by the involuntary contributions of Canadian taxpayers. Yeah, I got a problem with David Suzuki...and everyone else should, too. Instead of his support being a vote of "truth" as many brain-dead Canadians take this fraud, this guy's association with anything should be taken as a giganbtic red flag.

  • Corner Brook resident
    February 08, 2013 - 12:03

    Every person in Newfoundland and Labrador should be upset with this type of mining....FRACKING, I think. Just take a look at David Suzuki's tv program concerning this mining, if you want insight. It's alarming to say the least! Or read about these news topics in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, US and England. Once this fracking gets a foothold here, I feel it will never go away. I don't want Shoal Point Energy or any other company being giving the go-ahead for this type of mining by our gov't or board. Due diligence by all concerned gov't, boards and companies should be of the utmost priority, I think. Shoal Point is the area of concern today, but it could be Lark Harbour, Corner Brook or Plum Point,etc tomorrow. There's just too much to loose here, I feel. Remember once the damage is done, we have to live with the mess. I am a Corner Brook resident and in no way affiliated with any 'fear monger' group but this scares the hell out of me. If fracking is allowed, I feel that I'll have no one else to blame but myself if I sit back now, and do nothing but wait for someone else to voice my concerns. And if it comes to holding a demonstration sign in the future, then if that helps, I will. I have to make a stand, not only for me, but for my children and future grandchildren....it's mine and their future at risk here. My thoughts only!