Fracking study finds limited effects on drinking water

Another major study on fracking says it can lead to contamination, from among other things, spills of hydraulic fluids and wastewater.

A Vancouver Sun report says each side in the B.C. fracking debate claims the five-year U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study backs its argument.

It found fracking activities in the U.S. have not led to widespread systemic effects on drinking water, one of the key worries raised on both sides of the border.

The industry has long claimed there are no examples of water contamination from more than 215,000 fracked wells in Western Canada, but Quebec and three Atlantic provinces have moratoriums on the practice pending further study.

Here in northeast B.C., fracking of natural gas wells is expected to increase significantly if development of one or more north coast LNG plants goes forward.

However, the study noted that leaks from inside a well to drinking water sources decreased by a factor of about 1,000 when metal tubes protected the fracking well to below the level of those underground drinking water sources.

Here in B.C., regulations require that such tubes or a concrete lining must be extended below drinking water sources.

Therefore a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers suggests the study should provide public assurance that in Western Canada the process is done right and is safe for people and the environment.

However, a spokesman for the Pembina Institute says the bigger issue is the cumulative effect of fracking, and it hasn’t been explored in enough detail in B.C.