Union says province's fresh water supply may be threatened by natural gas 'fracking' agreement with Toronto energy drilling companies.
Charlottetown (8 Nov. 2010) - The Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) is concerned that the province's water supply could be threatened by a decision to grant "hydrofracking" rights to a Toronto energy company for 440,000 acres of land in the province.
|Container trucks at fracking operation in Pennsylvania|
Hydraulic fracturing is a process that involves injecting (under extreme pressure) a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a potential natural gas well. The process is being used increasingly to extract natural gas from unconventional reservoirs such as shale rock or coal beds.
The high pressure fractures rock and sand formations to create fissures that enable locked-in gas to flow more freely. However, the process also runs the risk of chemicals and methane migrating into the water supply. A moratorium on any further expansion of "fracking" was recently announced in Pennsylvania.
Shelley Ward, president of PEIUPSE, is calling on the P.E.I. government to halt the hydrofracking in the province until it can be shown conclusively that it is safe.
She says Island citizens should be concerned by a recent decision to award exploration and development rights to PetroWorth Resources Inc., a Toronto based oil and gas company. PetroWorth is working in partnership with a second company called Corridor Resources Inc.
The 440,000 acres included in the deal amount to one third of the entire land mass of the province, Ward says. This includes most of eastern P.E.I.
“You don’t see other provinces granting anywhere near this percentage of access to their land.... We are concerned about the safety of our water table here on P.E.I. and believe that fracking is a potential threat to safe, clean drinking water for Islanders,” Ward adds.
“Canadian scientists and environmental experts such as Diana Allen of Simon Fraser University and Brad Walters of Mount Allison University have spoken about the risks associated with fracking in their own provinces,” Ward notes.
She says the province seems "oblivious" to the dangers and is behaving in a manner contrary to the spirit of its recent decision to sign on to a three-year national water strategy.
When the water strategy was signed, Richard Brown, the province's energy and forestry minister, stressed the importance of clean, safe drinking water and that in P.E.I. ground water is the sole source of water for the province, Ward says.
“Why then is Minister Brown at the same time courting natural gas companies like PetroWorth and Corridor with lax environmental regulations that do not have safeguards in place for technologies such as fracking?" she asks.
"Will the Minister stand up for Islanders and place a moratorium on this controversial practice until more is known about the risks, or will the province continue to gamble with our water supply and the health of Islanders?”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE