“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…”

Well then.

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:



19 thoughts on ““Toxic Landslides Polluting Peace River Raise Alarms About Fracking, Site C”

  1. They label us to diminish us, we label ourselves to define who we are. I don’t think this will ever change. It’s human nature, we’ve labelled everything from the heights of the skies to the bottom of the seas.


  2. I noticed Bill Bennet a week or so ago on the 6pm News hour .
    He was touring the Site C project and actually looked down at his feet and answered a reporter with “well we dont need the power right now but we will in the future……” and then he went on to spin about jobs, clean energy, etc etc etc…. The usual canned doublespeak.
    I found that a bit of an eye opener and sad at the same time.
    The Liberals know that the power isnt needed now but damn the torpedos….full steam ahead!
    I’d have far more respect for a Premier OR a govt if they admitted they were wrong and stopped a mega project than the current fiscal nightmare being foisted upon us. Kinda like the Fast Ferries or the winter Olympics. Fiscal disasters.
    And of course the Trudeau Liberals shuffle and do nothing when they are well within their jursidiction to stop the construction and order an environmental review.
    Spineless politicians being jerked like puppets on a string but the “big boys in the back rooms”. Is SNC Lavalin involved in the construction?
    That major contributor to both the provincial and federal Liberals election campaigns????????


  3. Good comments Laila. There are so many interconnected problems with Site C from First Nations losses, huge hydro bills for our grandchildren, farmland flooded, habitat destruction, and now poisoning of the future reservoir that the BC government will be accountable for if they don’t stop this insanity.

    And good question nonconfidencevote, is the threat of campaign contributions dwindling all that is keeping the Liberals from doing the right thing for the Province?


  4. The BCUC doesn’t “decide the future of energy policy in BC”. It keeps the politicians (you know, the one’s that actually DO create the energy policy in BC) in check.


  5. Losers love labels , Laila. Ignore them. We need people like you, even if at times you may feel you’re the lone voice in the wilderness. If the BC Liberals aren’t stopped they will destroy this province and most certainly the Peace River valley. I know from personal experience, that, in addition to groundwater, excrement also rolls downhill. We’re seeing an example of that here.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. what is the ruination of the environment and a few deaths due to poisons as long as the queen of photo ops gets her photo ops and re elections? those are the really important things. Now Laila I don’t want to “label” all of us as alarmists, but really Christy and the B.C. Lieberal friends need this dam. Just think of all the jobs, jobs, jobs and money to be made. I do mean good heavens, those guys in the U.S.A. used a poisoned river to supply water to their city. That turned out O.K. They saved a little money for awhile and no one really died yet, so all is good. Christy and that Govenor have much in common. Instant gratification and a reckless disregard for human life springs to mind.

    Remember this is a government which has had at least 4 children die in care, lets one in five children live below the poverty line, lets children whose parents are in receipt of welfare or disability live at 50% below the poverty line. whats a little poison and as you yourself point out there isn’t a lot of study on the subject. So what does this mayor really know? First she is only a mayor and not a cabinet minister or a queen of photo ops.

    A few slides here and there, that’s o.k. not much lives there and with any luck any big slides which could really kill a lot of people won’t happen until the queen of photo ops is out of office and then its some one else’s problem. Or we have a big problem in the middle of even a larger problem, a major earthquake, they’ll just wrap the collapse of a big dam in with that. No one will notice.

    Well some of us are noticing including the Mayor. How this will be stopped I don’t know but an election with a new government might work. there is nothing beyond the point of stopping when you’re building a dam which we don’t need and is bad for the environment. If Christy Clark won’t pay attention, then its time for people to start filing law suits against the provincial government and putting more pressure on PETRONAS and co.

    One of the blogs, might even be yours had an interesting reference to the earthquakes in the Netherlands caused by fracking and they don’t have any earthquake faults there.

    The poisoning of the environment has to stop. these ponds are just killing machines. Its another reason I don’t like foreign corporations owning things in Canada. They don’t care about our environment. I’m not suggesting Canadian firms won’t do the same, but with foreign corporations it will be harder to get them to pay up than Canadian firms.

    The news media isn’t going to give the Mayor and the citizens up there much press, so it will be up to all of us to ensure they do and that maybe letters to the editors of newspapers in Canada, the U.S.A. and Europe to alert them to the environmental disasters coming our way, complements of Christy Clark. One of the ways we can get a little more publicity on these types of things is to start petitions with Change,org. The Mayor and her supporters might want to give that a whirl. It uses their whole mailing list and has had really great results on other issues, some of those petitions go international and have had as many as a couple of hundred thousand signatures.

    This reckless disregard for the environment and its impact on people reminds me of the Communist Government of China as it increased manufacturing and emptied the poisons into their rivers and streams causing untolled harm to their citizens. It was their quest for jobs, jobs, jobs and manufacturing at all costs. We know how that turned out for China. Now Christy Clark wants to do the same thing in B.C., just using other methods.

    It isn’t as if there isn’t enough science around about the fracking or the poison. Its just Christy Clark and the B.C. Lieberals want us to ignore it and their hand maidens of the MSM are giving them a good assist.


  7. Toxic landslides in the Peace River Valley, pushing the Site C dam construction past the point of no return, election campaign whoppers ad nauseam……..what’s it going to take to make the gullible electorate wake up and smell burning pants in the Premier’s office?

    For two days running we’ve been inundated with Christy’s story of ‘sexual assault’. Instead of publishing it as though it was the God’s truth (something that Christy has never been known for in her political history), why doesn’t some intrepid journalist find some of her old classmates from 35+ years ago and ask them about the veracity of that story? I know for a fact that if something like that had happened to me or any of my school friends when I was a teenager, the whole school would have known about it the very next day. My parents would have known about it the very day it happened. And BTW, does anyone believe she was working in a restaurant at the tender age of 13? Good grief, that’s not even legal, is it? Perhaps if it was her family’s restaurant (which they never had, to my knowledge, her Dad was some sort of teacher, wasn’t he?)

    How naive does she think we are that we would believe any part of that cockamamie fairy tale? How desperate is she that she has to invent these whoppers to try to gain some sympathy votes? And do you know what I find even more disgusting? That members of the opposition, Green MLA Andrew Weaver in particular, are publicly praising her ‘bravery’. It’s enough to make me want to pull a Bob Rae! In the meantime, I’ll just have to cross the Green Party off my list of potential electable candidates.


  8. Tredeau has to brought in to this God forsaken mess ,write,petition,our M.P.s tell the media that we are not buying there lies from them and our governments gather up some of this information copy and leave them in public places as much as possible power poles parks etc we could call it stop the madness and corruption news find a news paper that will print and some one to set up a funding site there has to be away.


  9. Seems to me that BC’s entire political community needs a major cleansing. It comes across to me as badly polluted with low quality political leadership.

    The wealth that came with reaching world-class standing way back in the 80’s, has clearly created a kids-squabbling-over-candy dynamic.

    The squabbling has gotten so aggressive, nearby furniture is getting destroyed!

    Geez, what next? The need to elect a second government every election to protect us all from low quality political leadership?


      1. Two thumbs up from me NVG.
        I have, for a long time liked the idea of independents with a “leader” chosen among them.

        The other notion I like, which will never gain traction, is to just flat out toss every incumbent regardless of stature or party.

        That would work so well as a big bang, wake up in BC this time around. Even those with decent records would get the heave ho and teach them to not spend so much time sitting on their hands.


  10. I do believe the M.P.s/M.L.A.s choosing the leader, P.M./Premier is the system they use in England and Australia. So if the M.P./M.L.A.s get pissed, they can remove the leader and it will be more likely that an M.P./M.L.A. is going to get pissed a lot faster if they think they will loose their jobs and don’t have to follow the party line.


  11. Does nobody contact northern AB–or does the Peace River flow west not east? The whole Peace River country needs to be alerted to the dangers that the BC dam may trigger.


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