“Toxic Landslides Polluting Peace River Raise Alarms About Fracking, Site C”
What I have always hated most about labels is that a substantial portion of the world buys into them.
I have written a lot about MP Dianne Watts but have on several occasions agreed with her on some issues. But when I do, people label me a Con.
I have written a lot about the Liberals but have also agreed on several occasions on some issues. But when I do, people label me a Liberal.
I have also written about the NDP on many occasions as opposition, and when I do…no one on the right knows what to say because I have contradicted the label that I am a lefty.
In fact, this is what upsets me most about political parties and leanings. People tend to see only the label and when that is keyed into their psyche, they stop listening to anything else you have to say. And that is why we never progress in politics, or in good policy.
Case in point, this article about the very real problem of the instability of the slopes of the WAC Bennett dam that – hold onto your hats here- has the same kind of geological makeup as the slopes of the future Site C. But because so many have labeled DeSmog and Sierra Club as enviro, leftie activists, its gained little traction which is a shame.
Why? Because its a very real concern and danger when it comes to Site C, the project the BC government exempted from the independent review of the agency it created entirely to do just that, the BC Utilities Commission.
Ben Parfitt explains:
“Toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, lithium and lead, are flowing unchecked into the Peace River following a series of unusual landslides that may be linked to natural gas industry fracking operations.
The landslides began nearly two years ago and show no sign of stopping. So far, they have killed all fish along several kilometres of Brenot and Lynx creeks just downstream from the community of Hudson’s Hope.
As plumes of muddy water laced with contaminants pulse into the Peace River, scientists and local residents are struggling to understand what caused the landslides and why they have not ceased.
Hudson’s Hope mayor Gwen Johansson is also worried about a broader question raised by the ongoing pollution. The toxic metals are entering the Peace River in a zone slated to be flooded by the Site C dam. That zone could experience nearly 4,000 landslides should the dam be built and the impounded waters begin to rise in the landslide-prone area.
The landslide estimate is contained in a voluminous consultant’s report to BC Hydro, which under the direction of Premier Christy Clark is rapidly advancing work at Site C in an effort to push the project past “the point of no return.”
“If this much damage can result from tiny Brenot Creek, what happens to the reservoir if we get thousands more landslides?” Johansson asks.
No definitive cause has yet been identified to explain what caused the Brenot Creek landslides. But one possibility is that they were triggered or exacerbated by natural gas industry fracking operations, in which immense amounts of water are pressure-pumped deep underground with enough force to cause earthquakes. Fracking is known to cause unanticipated cracks or fractures in underground rock formations, allowing contaminated water, natural gas, oil and other constituents to move vast distances undetected.
Such brute-force operations happened frequently in the years immediately before the first slides were noted at Brenot creek in August 2014.
Between July 2010 and March 2013, a dozen earthquakes ranging between 1.6 and 3.4 in magnitude occurred in the Farrell Creek fracking zone, about eight kilometres away from Lynx and Brenot creeks. (A small number of other fracking operations also occurred closer to the creeks, but do not show up in the seismographic record.)
Requests to B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission or OGC, and information gleaned from non-redacted parts of Freedom of Information requests to BC Hydro, indicate that by March of 2013 both the provincial energy industry regulator and the Crown-owned hydro provider were increasingly concerned about “events” at Farrell Creek.
“Right now our focus is on getting the improved seismographic network up and running. We will continue to monitor and study all cases of induced seismicity [earthquakes] in NEBC [Northeast British Columbia],” Dan Walker, the OGC’s then senior petroleum engineer wrote in an email to Andrew Watson, BC Hydro’s engineering division manager, on March 7 of that year. The email was written two days after the last of the 12 earthquakes occurred at Farrell Creek.
By the time of that earthquake, Talisman Energy, the biggest natural gas company then operating at Farrell Creek, knew that wastewater was disappearing below one of four massive “retention ponds” that it had built to store millions of litres of highly contaminated water from its fracking operations.
A detailed investigation subsequently paid for by Talisman and conducted by Matrix Solutions, an environmental engineering firm, notes that Talisman’s “leakage management system” detected that contaminated water was escaping from between two liners that were supposed to trap and prevent Pond A’s toxic brew from polluting the ground and water around it.
Pond A had likely leaked for five months beginning in January 2013. In June of that year, Talisman drained Pond A and confirmed that the leaks had, indeed, occurred.
The wastewater ponds and gas reserves in the region are now owned by Progress Energy, owned in turn by Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned petro giant that the provincial government is eager to see build a liquefied natural gas terminal at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. The Oil and Gas Commission, which regulates B.C.’s oil and gas industry, subsequently ordered Talisman to drain the remaining three ponds. At that point, it was discovered that Pond D was leaking toxic wastewater too.
Among the toxic substances found in water samples collected from groundwater sources underneath Talisman’s faulty storage pits were arsenic, barium, cadmium, lithium and lead, the same hazardous compounds that are found in the billions of fine sediments that continue to turn the waters of Brenot and Lynx creeks a muddy brown and enter the fish-bearing Peace River.
The Matrix Solutions report released in May 2015 noted that the release of toxic metals into the environment was predictable. By digging the huge pits and exposing massive amounts of unearthed material to the air, “surface and groundwater acidification” were potential risks, Matrix said.
“The primary concern for receiving environments related to acidic groundwater is the potential for release of trace metals,” the report warned.
Whether or not the fracking-induced earthquakes or the failures at Talisman’s waste ponds played any role in events at Brenot and Lynx creeks is unknown. To date, no studies have been done in the region to determine how and where water moves below ground. In its report of more than 2,200 pages, Matrix noted a troubling lack of such information. “Flow direction is not documented,” the Matrix report said. However, the report went on to say that groundwater generally moves from “topographic highs toward topographic lows.” In other words, it moves downhill.
Below the Farrell Creek fracking zone, the waters of Lynx and Brenot creeks continue to be so full of contaminants that a person’s finger placed just a millimeter below the surface disappears from view. The pollution caused one local farmer to quip at the time that his “cows are not supposed to chew the water…”
I suppose we should all just ignore the voice of a mayor who made the Most Influential Women in BC list-who has served her community very well-and the voices of scientists and the voices of all those who wonder why the government continues to pretend this isn’t an issue.
And I suppose Bill Bennett, Minister of all things messed up in the Energy file, has no comment on this because after all, he has his marching orders from his premier…
You might want to read the rest of this,because even if you live in Metro Vancouver,or in the interior, it does impact you, the taxpayer who is footing the bill for this damn dam that government exempted from the only review who will question motive, business plan and finances…because they know well it would have been denied once again.
READ the rest now, at this link: http://www.desmog.ca/2016/06/08/toxic-landslides-polluting-peace-river-raise-alarms-about-fracking-site-c
Because the only label you need on this mess is: