Letter to NL Natural Resources Minister Sean Skinner Regarding Possible Fracking Activity in NL
Hon. Sean Skinner July 18, 2011
Minister of Natural Resources
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, Newfoundland
Dear Minister Skinner
I write regarding exploratory drilling for natural gas conducted in the past few years on the west coast of Newfoundland. In April this year our group along with various Environmental Non Governmental Organizations(ENGOs) attended briefing sessions regarding mining and exploration policies for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. At one of those sessions I queried if the process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” was being employed to extract natural gas in this province.
This hydraulic fracturing or fracking process consists of injecting huge volumes of water at high pressure into shale rock formations thus releasing the natural gas contained in the rock. Water is mixed with sand, chemicals, and gels to lubricate and help keep the rocks open so the gas may flow more easily. Use of such technologies results in massive water withdrawals from nearby natural water sources and creates streams of hazardous wastes.
At the time of my query I was informed by an official with the mines branch that no fracking was being conducted in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, our club has been active conducting research on fracking activities in the Atlantic region. I would draw your attention to the Vulcan Minerals web page
Under the Prospects section there is mention of drilling for natural gas using a fracking process. Current environmental regulation in Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador did not anticipate the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production so it is excluded from the existing environmental assessment process.
We are concerned about the threat hydraulic fracturing or fracking may pose to the security of groundwater and surface water in areas of western Newfoundland as there is potential for migration of chemicals and natural gas into water supplies. It is our understanding from experiences in other jurisdictions that it poses significant health threats from the poisonous waste water produced along with possible gas well blow-outs.
In that context we request that the Newfoundland and Labrador Government institute an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or fracking until such time as environmental and regulatory issues associated with this process can be properly examined by government and the public.
Atlantic Canada Chapter
Sierra Club Canada
St. John's, Newfoundland