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British Columbia has recently become the new popular spot for some of the largest fracking sites within North America. While the exhausting debate continues to unfold all over the U.S., the unpopular and seemingly unsafe drilling methods continue to be used in Canada.
The non-profit independent media institute AlterNet found that early last year, the largest fracking site in North America was opened by Apache in British Columbia. The site alone used 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand to frack 16 gas wells side by side, and the company boasted that it was “nearly four times larger than any project of its nature in North America.” While they have now opened larger sites, it still remains one of the largest of its kind.
The effects of hydraulic fracturing are not completely understood, however communities across Canada have already complained about water contamination. Mirroring their neighbors to the south, many communities across the U.S.A. have experienced that selected water contamination is the largest concern related to fracking.
In a recent survey by Canadians.org, 62% of Canadians said they support “a moratorium on all fracking for natural gas until all the federal environmental reviews are complete.” Without the environmental reviews being complete, and the companies right to not disclose the chemicals used in the process, it is clear that the Canadians are uneasy with the current uncertainty.
The Council of Canadians states that the Harper government has begun two separate reviews on the process. The first review was requested by Environment minister Peter Kent, asking the Council of Canadian Academies for a scientific examination of the potential environmental impacts of the development of Canada’s shale gas resources. Meanwhile the second review, also ordered by Kent, was requesting department officials to examine any potential environmental consequences of shale gas development.
These reviews could be significant for either the further development of fracking, or the eventual shutting down of these potentially dangerous sites. However, according to The Council of Canadian Academies spokeswoman Cate Meechan, the company is waiting for a formal written request by Kent and then an expert inspection can take up to 18 months, leaving the completion of such a review until April 2013.
Taking frustration levels to a new high, Kent has also claimed that he could stop fracking in New Brunswick, and possibly across the rest of the country, however it does not appear he will intervene anytime soon.
“[While] the exploitation of natural resources is not actually regulated by Ottawa, the federal government could step in and restrict the practice if the review by Council of Canadian Academies finds certain environmental ‘triggers’, such as the chemicals involved posing a threat to waterways with fish,” Kent explained.
“If there is a need for a certain sort of action, we certainly under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act have that authority and wouldn’t hesitate.” He continued,”…If we were to find that there was significant broad environmental risk, then we would have to consider ways of acting to limit or control it.”
So while it seems hydraulic fracturing could be stopped, Canadians are left to wait for the completion of the environmental reviews, while fracking companies continue to drill for natural gas.
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