Local group wants province to learn from U.S. fracking mistakes

By: Derek Clouthier

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Oct 31, 2012 11:03 am

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Can we not learn from the mistakes of our neighbours to the south?

This is the question being asked by members of the local coalition Cochrane Area Under Siege (CAUS) when it comes to what they believe are primitive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) practices in Alberta.

“The U.S. regulators are eight years ahead of us,” said Dan Thomas, a CAUS member, “and we’re ignoring all that.”

During an open house held at the RancheHouse on Oct. 27 by CAUS, the coalition highlighted the cycle our southern neighbours have already gone through with regards to fracking, a cycle CAUS says took eight years to complete.

Thomas and Gary Tresidder, who is also a member of the anti-fracking group, are hoping that the Province of Alberta will look at what CAUS believes were glaring mistakes the U.S. endured when fracking became a prevalent method of oil and gas extraction.

The U.S.’s eight-year fracking cycle CAUS refers to encompasses several stages that proceed as follows: perceived acceptable industrial method or action; some party is hurt or believes they will be; hurt party becomes vocal; lawyers start to listen and act; investors start to get nervous and want protection; liability holders get involved; governments start to listen and act; and finally, innovation and creativity starts to happen and acceptable methods are found or abandonment occurs.

CAUS believe the U.S. is currently at the final stage, while Alberta is now somewhere between ‘hurt party becomes vocal’ and ‘lawyers start to listen and act.’

The question the coalition is asking, is why can’t we jump to the final stage now and avoid what they feel would be a destructive five-year cycle for the Cochrane area.

For CAUS, the problem lies with what they believe is imminent contamination of both water and air.

Tresidder pointed to several issues those living in his region – north of Cochrane – are having with their health, from loss of hair, burning skin, breathing troubles and headaches. He also said that he himself has suffered from a cough that has not alleviated in nearly two years, and that a family member has also had health issues, which they had not had prior to fracking operations in his area.

Much of the health concerns at this point according to CAUS is the use of flare stacks, something Tresidder says does not properly do the job they are intended to do.

“They’re very ineffective and inefficient,” he said at a previous CAUS meeting, “and do not burn off the chemicals.”

Tresidder and Thomas also said that Alberta Health Services would soon be meeting with a group of people who say their health has been negatively affected by hydraulic fracturing.

CAUS’s Oct. 27 open house was a question-and-answer session for anyone wishing to speak with the group’s members about their concerns.


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