[Refer to first:
Why did Intrinsik [industry controlled?] exclude from their review the 2012 Health Canada report that summarized numerous frac risks to public health and water? The Council of Canadian Academies [also industry controlled?] excluded it too.
In 2008, Dr Don Davies of Intrinsik pushed that super critical sour oil drilling near the school in Tomahawk was of no risk to the lives and health of the children:
Risk from sour gas minimal, expert says by The Edmonton Journal, September 24, 2008
TOMAHAWK – A proposal to drill four “sour” oil wells near a school would
not put the lives of students at risk, an oil company’s toxicology
expert told an Energy Resources Conservation Board hearing Tuesday.
Don Davies, senior vice-president of Intrinsik Environmental sciences,
told a three-member ERCB panel that some of the 140 students attending Tomahawk School may suffer headaches and nausea if there was an unplanned release of the potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas, but they would not experience serious health problems. [!!!!]
“Because of the relatively low concentrations of hydrogen sulphide involved, the prospect for more serious health effects would be low,” he said.
The panel, chaired by Brad McManus, is holding the hearing in Tomahawk, 90 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, to determine whether to permit Highpine Energy to drill four oil wells within two kilometres of the kindergarten-to-Grade 9 school.
Parents say the wells are too close and are seeking a buffer zone of seven kilometres between the community and the wells, which are expected to have concentrations of 160,000 parts per million of hydrogen sulphide. The gas is lethal at 750 parts per million.
But Davies, testifying on behalf of Highpine, said his [Or industry’s?] modelling of a worst-case scenario would result in students being exposed to levels of hydrogen sulphide between one and 27 parts per million. He said people living closer to the well might be exposed to H2S levels as high as 100 parts per million, but that wouldn’t be lethal.
“In all cases, the experience for the people found in the area would be unpleasant and uncomfortable and perhaps intolerable,” Davies testified. “However, the prospect for serious, irreversible and or life-threatening health outcomes would be low.” [!!!!!!]
Keith Wilson, a lawyer for a local citizen’s group called the West Parkland Liaison Committee, said he will call his own expert witness to refute Davies’ testimony. He said Davies’ modelling is based on the “idealistic notion” the well can be controlled 15 minutes after a release or blowout occurs. “That seems hardly realistic,” he said.
He said the testimony also assumes wind will disperse the gas before it reaches the school and fails to account for the fact that the gas is heavier than air and the school is at a lower elevation than the wells.
Documents filed with the ERCB by Parkland County warn that the closest emergency services equipment, at the Tomahawk Fire Station, could be inaccessible if there was a problem because the fire hall is in the evacuation zone. The county says it has concluded it “would not have sufficient resources to properly respond.”
But Russ Brown, an emergency preparedness consultant hired by Highpine, said in the event of an emergency Highpine could call upon 20 other area oil companies to help notify and evacuate residents. [Emphasis added]
Sour wells won’t risk kids’ lives, says expert by The Calgary Herald, September 24, 2008
A toxicology expert testifying at a hearing to approve the drilling of four sour oil wells near a local school said that even in the event of a catastrophic failure of well safety equipment, the lives of students would not be in danger.
Don Davies, senior vice-president of Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, told an Energy Resources Conservation Board panel Tuesday that students may suffer headaches and nausea from an unplanned release of hydrogen sulphide gas, but likely not any serious health problems, unless they suffered from asthma.
“In some cases, the students, teachers and staff also might experience minor to mild irritation of the eyes and/or breathing passages,” he said. “Because of the relatively low concentrations of hydrogen sulphide involved, the prospect for more serious health effects would be low.”
Keith Wilson, a lawyer for a local citizens’ group, the West Parkland Liaison Committee, rejected the testimony and said he will call his own expert witness to refute it.
Some Tomahawk parents say they may keep their children out of the local
school if the drilling is allowed.
“We didn’t plan on being neighbours with the sour gas and oil
companies,” said Donna Goode, 30, a Tomahawk school bus driver and mother of four. [Emphasis added]
Fueling Fears by CTV W-5, Canada, February 7, 2009:
W-FIVE’s Fueling Fears aired nationally in Canada on February 7, 2009. Two days later, the Harper government’s anti-terrorist squad began harassing Jessica Ernst but not the others interviewed. W-Five interviewed the following and more:
Barbara Graff and her family (reportedly exposed to and harmed by Encana’s sour gas vented near their home)
Pekisko ranchers Wendy and Gordon Cartwright
Rodeo stars Linda Thurston and her family
Singer-song writer Ian Tyson
Sour gas drilling should have been delayed by Jessica Ernst, December 21, 2008 8:18 AM, Edmonton Journal
Re: “Tomahawk parents slam sour well drilling: Some question timing of work in deadly hydrogen sulphide pocket,” The Journal, Dec. 11.
I am struck by this Dale Evans quote included in an invitation I recently received: “Christmas, my child, is love in action.”
But not at Tomahawk or anywhere else the Energy and Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Tories reign. What a terrifying and unnecessary stress for directly and adversely affected families at Christmas.
There are some things money will never buy, no matter how rich you are. Love is one of them. I believe that love, peace and children are our greatest gifts from God. What chance do we have for love in action with Synergy Alberta, the government and ERCB refusing to respect the risks and fears that come with sour gas wells?
High Pine Energy could easily have waited until school was out to begin its drilling; the Alberta government and ERCB could easily have provided the buffer requested by the county.
I am shocked by the community members who are trying to shame and silence parents who are courageous enough to publicly voice their reasonable and valid fears. Are we so desensitized in our relentless greed that not even our God-given gifts are to be respected and protected anymore?
Shake it off, Alberta! Let’s stand united for peace and love, and respect and protection for our children. Let’s give them love in action.
A child in the documentary War Dance said: “I look forward to seeing what peace looks like.” I do too, because we do not have it in Alberta.
Jessica Ernst, Rosebud © Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
2015 02 19: British Columbia’s Ministry Health withholding data, report of scientific research on how oil and gas operations are affecting human health in northeast communities; Refusing to release even under FOIP: “could be harmful to the financial interest of a public body”
2015 02 27: Not even Peace Region MLAs have Intrinsik’s frac health harm report that’s been reportedly sitting on Health Minister’s desk since March 2014; Government currently “compiling all the data” and will be “releasing a report in the next couple of months.” What happened to Intrinsik? Their contract says they are to compile the data and produce the final report
2015 03 05: British Columbia’s answer to escalating Frac Health Harms? More doctors and cut funding to North East Oil and Gas Health Advisory Committee? “The very committee pushing for answers is effectively being forced to fold” ]
DID INDUSTRY CONTROL INTRINSIK AND THE REPORT?
The Intrinsik report, dated August 2014, released March 26, 2015 WHERE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY EDITS? Human Health Risk Assessment Summary Report (PDF 1.7M)
MEDIA ON THE INTRINSIK REPORT
How low can the media go?
Snap above taken at 8:30PM March 26, 2015
Oil and gas industry has low impact on health in northeastern B.C.: report by Laura Kane, The Canadian Press, March 26, 2015, News1130
Health risks associated with oil-and-gas activity in northeastern British Columbia are low, according to a newly released report from the provincial Health Ministry. Health Minister Terry Lake said Thursday the report concludes that existing regulations protect public health. But it also makes 14 recommendations, including improvements to emergency planning zones, groundwater testing and air quality objectives. “Protecting the health and safety of British Columbians is one of our government’s top priorities, and that’s why we undertook this comprehensive study,” Lake told reporters on a conference call. “After careful review and analysis, the study found that the risk to human health from the emissions from oil-and-gas activities in the northeast remains low.”
[Industry controlled] Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc. conducted the research, which represents the final phase of an evaluation of human-health risks related to the oil-and-gas industry. The first phase released in 2012 detailed the concerns of residents who believed their health problems — including asthma, bronchitis, sinus issues and cancer — were linked to industry activities like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The report released Thursday was meant to assess whether these concerns were scientifically valid. It covered air emissions from gas-processing plants and production facilities, as well as related industries, transportation, and community sources. [WHY DID INTRINSIK NOT ASSESS THE EMISSIONS FROM FRAC OPERATIONS?]
But West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson called the report “embarrassing,” saying the investigation was too narrow and designed to support industry expansion.
“They did a report so that they could stand up and say, ‘Everything’s good in northeastern B.C., there are no health issues,’” he said. “People have to look at that report and ask the questions of, ‘What didn’t they look at?’”
Willson said his band members still have significant concerns about high rates of cancer in the community, and the nation is considering commissioning an independent third-party review.
The ministry has come under fire for delaying the report’s release. It was complete in November, [WHY ARE THE MEDIA LYING ABOUT THAT? THE REPORT IS DATED AUGUST 2014!] but Lake said various government departments needed to review it first.
Independent member of the legislature Vicki Huntington said the government refused her requests in recent months to see the report or its raw data, telling her the information could harm the province’s “financial interests.”
“Data is data. There should be absolutely no fear in releasing it so that independent individuals and scientists can take a look at it,” she said in an interview shortly before the report’s release.
Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director at Sierra Club B.C., said evidence exists showing fracking has “serious health impacts,” from chemicals pumped underground and air-quality effects from gas flaring.
“I don’t see how it’s possible to reconcile the government’s proposed plans to massively increase this industry, while maintaining the health of British Columbians,” she said. [Emphasis added]
B.C. oil and gas industry is low risk to human health: report by Emily Jackson, March 26, 2015, Metro News
Emissions from the booming oil and gas industry in Northern B.C. present a low risk to human health, according to a[n industry controlled] report released by the province on Thursday. The extensive health risk assessment found that air concentrations of chemicals from oil and gas activity – which is expected to skyrocket if the province’s liquefied natural gas plans succeed – were below the health exposure limits.
But it also found problems with emergency planning zones and pointed to limited knowledge about the consequences of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” [How can the report claim low or no health impacts if the experts don’t know? And why are the media posting such dishonest headlines?]
The report by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences made 14 recommendations, including increased monitoring of air quality and groundwater and better management of flaring, venting and fugitive emissions.
When it comes to public safety, it suggested updating how emergency planning zones are calculated but didn’t increase the distance wells must be set back from facilities such as homes and schools.
As for fracking, it recommended requiring companies to test groundwater before drilling and disclose the chemicals in their fracking fluid to health authorities [WHY NOT TO THE FAMILIES NEXT DOOR HAVING TO BREATH THE VENTED, FLARED AND OR INCINERATED TOXICS AND RACING THROUGH THEIR COMMUNITIES?] in case of emergency.
… NDP MLA Robin Austin, critic for economic development in Northern B.C., called the recommendations “a step in the right direction” and said the opposition will watch to make sure the government follows through. [WHAT KIND OF LAME OPPOSITION IS THIS?] “There are a lot of improvements to be made on the fracking issue. The notion that everything was fine and that we needn’t worry wasn’t the case,” Austin said. He believes the recommendations calling for transparency will give companies a social licence to operate in the north.
Government study finds minimal health risks from fracking in B.C.’s northeast by Travis Lupick, March 26, 2015, Straight
“The report does make several recommendations, mostly around emergency planning, increased monitoring, and current levels of date collection and surveillance,” Lake continued. “We’ve shared these recommendations and findings with the ministries or organizations that are responsible, and will be following up to ensure that they are followed and implemented.”
A PowerPoint presentation released to media states the study found B.C.’s “existing framework is extensive and broadly protective of health,” and that B.C. regulations are “comparable to the measures that have been adopted in other jurisdictions and in line with applicable [legally unenforceable, completely voluntary] best management practices.”
The report covers two assessment scenarios. The first focuses on air emissions from gas processing plants and production facilities. The second looks at those operations plus related industries, transportation, and community sources of air pollution.
Among recommendations included in the report is a suggestion the government conduct additional reviews of groundwater and surface water interactions.
The B.C. Ministry of Health’s findings stand in contrast to those of a similar study that examined fracking in New York State.
In December 2014, the New York Times described that report as “concluding that the method posed inestimable public-health risks”.
That document’s release prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce his administration would implement an outright ban on fracking “because of concerns over health”.
Following today’s briefing on operations in B.C.’s northeast, Lake was asked what the report says about health risks specifically associated with fracking.
“I think the main thing that this study shows is the regulatory regime in British Columbia is very robust very rigorous,” he replied. “This practice has been ongoing for decades here in British Columbia. And of course the geology we have in British Columbia is quite different than it is in other parts of North America where this has been more of a concern.” [Did Lake answer the question? ]
Oil and gas health risks low in northeast B.C., report finds by Mark Hume, March 26, 2015, The Globe and Mail
A long-awaited study into the health risks associated with the oil and gas industry in northeast British Columbia has concluded there is a low probability of adverse effects from exposure to contaminants. The report, part of a larger study the B.C. government initiated nearly four years ago, was released Thursday by provincial Health Minister Terry Lake.
The findings were welcomed by industry, which has long been blamed for releasing contaminants that are harmful to human health, but critics remained doubtful, saying too much is still unknown about long-term effects.
“It’s a comprehensive report and I think it demonstrates that people who live and work in northeast B.C. shouldn’t be concerned about the impact of the oil and gas industry on their health,” said Geoff Morrison, manager of operations in B.C. for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. [Would you believe CAPP? Or the peer-reviewed science and Health Canada warnings that Intrinsik left out of their assessment?]
But Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, said he “remains skeptical” that the oil and gas industry isn’t exposing people to health risks. “You get this general statement [in the report] that there’s a low health risk and I find that in striking contrast to the Canadian Council of Academies report [in May, 2014], which raised concerns,” [And the CCA report left out the most damning evidence of harm!] Mr. Sandborn said. “The health impacts of fracking have not been well studied and yet we have a B.C. study coming out and saying there’s low risk.” [The health and environmental impacts have been studied, the many harms are real and serious ]
In its report, the Canadian Council of Academies says there is a lack of baseline data for groundwater in the vicinity of shale gas development. [Dr. John Cherry said nearly the same thing a decade earlier in the 2002 Council of Minister of the Environment report that the CCA conveniently left out of their report, as did Intrinsik] The B.C. study, which was done by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc., also notes the lack of data in that area and recommends the government consider requiring baseline testing of ground water before gas wells are drilled. [How Stupid is that? It’s many years too late for “baseline” water testing.]
Intrinsik looked at the health risks associated with an array of chemicals of potential concern (COPC) that can be released from gas processing plants, compressor stations, storage tanks and other sources. “Overall, long-term inhalation exposures to the COPC were predicted [Why not use real data? Why rely on fairy tales? Prediction is a far cry from reality, notably from oil and gas industry controlled companies like Intrinsik] to be associated with a low potential for adverse health effects,” the report states.
It says the release of some chemicals, such as formaldehyde, did occasionally exceed safe exposure limits, but “the rare nature” of such incidents meant adverse health impacts were unlikely.
The report recommends that the government update its setback provisions, which establish the minimum distance between oil and gas facilities and residences. It also calls for a review of the emergency planning zones, saying they “may not reflect current best available practices.” And it calls for a stronger regulatory framework concerning venting and flaring.
Mr. Lake said the government received the report several months ago but wanted to review it thoroughly before releasing it. “Our government is committed to ensuring that the health of British Columbians is protected as we explore opportunities for economic and job growth throughout the province,” he said in a statement.
Several studies have recently highlighted the environmental and health risks associated with “fracking,” a relatively new technique used to extract gas by injecting sand, large volumes of water and various chemicals deep underground, to fracture shale deposits.
In December, New York state extended a ban on fracking after health commissioner Howard Zucker said a health impact study had concluded: “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not fully known.” [Emphasis added]
THE BC GOVERNMENT’S PRESS RELEASE AND LINKS TO THE REPORT AND ASSOCIATED FILINGS
Phase two oil and gas human health study released Press Release by BC Health, March 26, 2015
The Province publicly released the Northeast Oil and Gas Human Health Risk Assessment Study today, announced Health Minister Terry Lake.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that the health of British Columbians is protected as we explore opportunities for economic and job growth throughout the province,” said Lake. “That is why we undertook this comprehensive study, and I am pleased to release the full report today. After careful review and analysis, the study found that the risk to human health from emissions from oil and gas activities in the Northeast remains low.”
Phase two of the risk assessment began in November 2012, and included: a scientific literature review, a screening level risk assessment, a detailed human health risk assessment, a review of the current regulatory framework, and recommendations. Its goals were to assess the health risks associated with oil and gas activity in Northeastern B.C. and, where appropriate, to provide recommendations to fill knowledge gaps and manage risks. The phase two report was presented to government in November 2014.
“Our government has now had the opportunity to fully review the phase two report, and the data and information compiled will serve as a valuable baseline for monitoring the health effects of future development of natural gas and other resource activities in our region,” said Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm. “It will help us continue to protect our Peace country residents’ health and wellbeing while we grow our region and province’s economic health through these carefully managed activities.”
The human health risk assessment found there is a low probability of adverse health effects from exposures to contaminants related to current oil and gas activities. It was compiled following the standards and scientific processes recognized by Health Canada, the World Health Organization and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Phase two also included a regulatory review of the current processes and policies in place to monitor the longer term development of the oil and gas industry in the Northeast. It found the existing regulatory framework is extensive and broadly protective of human health, but there is room for improvement in some selected areas, including: emergency planning; flaring, venting and fugitive emission management; hydraulic fracturing; information management; and environmental monitoring.
The Province has accepted the recommendations and has already taken action to address some of these issues. For example, phase one of the Northeast Air Monitoring Project established three new portable air monitoring stations in December 2013 and January 2014, located at Doig River, Farmington Community Hall and Tomslake. Each station measures concentrations of sulphur dioxide and total reduced sulphur traditionally associated with oil and gas development. There are currently ten ambient air monitoring stations located in Northeastern B.C. In addition, the Northeast Water Strategy that was recently released by government will address three out of 14 recommendations through monitoring and testing.
The release of the report constitutes the final phase of the study. Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc., the company contracted to complete phase two, will provide technical briefings and community outreach to key stakeholders and members of the public in the region. This will ensure that the technical data is made more accessible, and the results and recommendations can be thoroughly explained.
“The study looked at a vast amount of material and data. We used this material to compile the report examining the potential impacts on human health of the oil and gas industry in B.C.,” said Bart Koppe, project leader, Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc. “While we recognize that no report can be all things to all people, I feel confident that this study is a comprehensive analysis of the oil and gas industry in the Northeast, and British Columbians can be assured that we did not find any significant threats to human health.”
The Intrinsik team included experts in several key areas, including air quality, water resources, emergency management, community medicine and epidemiology.
The phase one report, which engaged with stakeholders and members of the public to learn more about their concerns and questions around oil and gas development, was completed by the Fraser Basin Council, and can be found online at www.health.gov.bc.ca/protect/oil-gas-assessment.html, along with interim phase two report updates.
Two backgrounders follow.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
BACKGROUNDER 1 Phase two – Oil and gas human health risk assessment
The results of the detailed human health risk assessment found that the risk to human health from emissions from oil and gas activities in the Northeast remains low.
The study looked at the maximum predicted levels of a variety of chemicals from oil and gas activity in a total of 26 community locations, over both a long and short-term basis. In general, air concentrations were less than health exposure limits (as set by a variety of regulatory organizations).
In addition, the study looked at potential exposures that people in the area might receive over the long term through the consumption of locally grown foods, drinking water, etc., and found that the potential for adverse human health effects is low.
The report made 14 recommendations, based on the findings of phases one and two, to guide government regulators who will oversee future oil and gas development. The full recommendations and response from government can be found in the next backgrounder, but they include:
Public Safety (emergency planning zones and setbacks):
- Update methods for calculating hazard distances and emergency planning zones.
- Update land use and setback provisions and consider equal application to both oil and gas and land development activities.
Flaring, Venting and Fugitive Emission Management:
- B.C. Ambient Air Quality Objectives should guide the development of regulations, directives and policies pertaining to flaring, venting and fugitive emissions.
- Consider baseline pre-drilling groundwater testing requirements.
- Consider refining the fracturing fluid disclosure process.
- Use the provincial Site Classification Tool and Contaminated Sites Regulation framework in the assessment and management of legacy sites.
- Review objectives and efficiency of various databases managing permits, facility information, wells and flares data.
Environmental Monitoring and Health Surveillance:
- Continue to follow principles outlined in the Framework for the B.C. Air Monitoring Network and use the results of the human health risk assessment to inform its expansion, including monitoring of additional contaminants.
- Verify air quality predictions and human health risks as new monitoring data becomes available.
- Expand aquifer and vulnerability mapping.
- Expand study of groundwater and surface water interactions within shallow aquifers and ground water flow conditions to assess potential contaminant fate and migration.
- Expand environmental monitoring to include other media, such as biota, soil and water quality.
- Tailor health surveillance to study health outcomes in areas with highest predicted air concentrations.
- Review and update B.C.’s various ambient air quality objectives, including consideration of other chemicals of potential concern.
For the full phase two study and recommendations, visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/protect/oil-gas-assessment.html
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
BACKGROUNDER 2 Recommendations and government response
The Province has accepted each of the 14 recommendations and government has begun to take action to address them.
Recommendation 1: The tools applied to the calculation of emergency planning zones representing the range of hazards associated with oil and gas infrastructure and activities should be updated and use scientifically supportable methods and emergency-based consequence endpoints.
Response 1: Government accepts this recommendation, and the Oil and Gas Commission will consult with industry, experts and other oil and gas regulators to develop recommendations for updating the regulatory requirements used to calculate emergency planning zones. Regulatory revisions are subject to a rigorous stakeholder and public consultation process, and the Oil and Gas Commission continually evaluates the regulation of oil and gas activities for safe and efficient practices and processes.
Recommendation 2: Land-use and setback provisions applied in B.C. should be updated and use scientifically supportable methods along with individual and societal risk-based endpoints consistent with accepted risk norms, guidelines and standards applied in other developed industrialized countries. Further, it is recommended that these land-use and setback provisions be applied equally to both oil and gas and land development activities.
Response 2: Government accepts this recommendation, and the Oil and Gas Commission will consult with industry, experts and other oil and gas regulators to review the science and risk based practices regarding setbacks from oil and gas activities that may be suitable for regulatory adoption.
In addition, while the human health risk assessment report was being developed, setback provisions pertaining to schools were reviewed and increased.
Recommendation 3: The B.C. Ambient Air Quality Objectives should guide the development of regulations, directives and policies pertaining to venting, fugitive emissions, flaring limits, flaring notification and reporting, and flaring performance requirements. This should be done in a transparent manner that demonstrates how the objectives are considered.
Response 3: Government accepts this recommendation. All oil and gas activities are actively regulated to minimize impacts on air quality. Currently, the Ministry of Environment and the Oil and Gas Commission considers B.C. Ambient Air Quality Objectives when making decisions to authorize oil and gas activities.
The Ministry of Environment and the Oil and Gas Commission will continue to collaborate to ensure B.C. Ambient Air Quality Objectives are available to Commission staff in the regulation of oil and gas activities.
Transparency and consistency in applying the objectives will be clarified through the development of BC Oil and Gas Commission’s operational policies and directives.
Recommendation 4: The implementation of baseline, pre-drilling ground water testing requirements for oil and gas activity in B.C. should be considered. Whenever possible, the process for collecting the information should be transparent, and the results publicly available, and reviewed on a regular basis. To facilitate the interpretation of results, it may also be beneficial to encourage the collection and reporting of well information in addition to sample data.
Response 4: Government accepts this recommendation and one of the first actions includes investing in the Peace Project on groundwater in Northeast B.C. led by GeoscienceBC. The Peace Project is a collaborative effort that will generate new information about groundwater in Northeast B.C.’s Peace Region.
Recommendation 5: The Province should consider refining its fracturing fluid disclosure process so that designated authorities and health professionals can gain access to needed information about fluid ingredients, without compromising confidential business information.
Response 5: Government accepts this recommendation. All companies must currently report their use of hydraulic fracture fluid ingredients on FracFocus.ca. The Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministry of Health will review the current fracturing fluid disclosure processes to determine what changes can be made to ensure health care professionals have the information they need.
The Oil and Gas Commission is also working with UBC Okanagan to review the make-up of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and flowback water.
Recommendation 6: When possible, the site classification tool and the existing framework for the management of contaminated sites should be used together in the assessment and management of legacy sites in Northeastern British Columbia.
Response 6: Government accepts this recommendation. The Ministry of Environment and the Oil and Gas Commission will work together to determine how to best use the site classification tools with the existing environment framework to manage contaminated sites and to even better assess and manage legacy sites.
Results of this work will be made publicly available.
In addition, the Oil and Gas Commission’s Liability Management Program coupled with the existing provincial regulatory framework provide the tools necessary for the management of contaminated sites.
The Oil and Gas Commission continually reviews and evaluates the regulation of oil and gas activities to identify and implement safe and efficient practices and efficient processes.
Recommendation 7: The overall objectives and efficient use of the various databases that manage permits, facility information, wells and flare data should be reviewed, with the aim of identifying means to make the systems more accessible and user-friendly.
Response 7: Government accepts this recommendation and work is underway and ongoing. The Northeast Water Tool and Northwest Water Tool are hydrology tools developed by the Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. They provide guidance on water availability across Northern B.C. and support decision-making for water use approvals and permits.
In addition, within the past three years, the Oil and Gas Commission has made over 60 new oil and gas-related data sets publicly available via the B.C. Government Data Warehouse.
Further examples of new databases and tools include:
- The initiation and expansion of FracFocus.ca – tracking use of hydraulic fracturing fluids.
- The area-based analysis tool – managing the impact of oil and gas activities within acceptable levels in the broader context of all development.
- The Oil and Gas Commission Incident Map – showing pipeline incidents from 2000 to current.
- The Major Projects Office – tracking proposals that require a high degree of internal and external co-ordination.
Recommendation 8: The Province’s on-going air monitoring program in Northeast B.C. should continue to follow the principles outlined in B.C. Ministry of Environment Framework for the British Columbia Air Monitoring Network. Consideration should be given to the air quality contour maps provided in the detailed human health risk assessment in the placement of future air quality monitors. As well, the identification of specific air contaminants for inclusion in the air monitoring program should consider the findings of the detailed human health risk assessment.
Response 8: Government accepts this recommendation. Led by the Ministry of Environment, the Northeast Air Monitoring project is a multi-phase project to monitor, report, and assess air quality in the Northeast; to reach out to the local community in this process; and to establish a long-term air monitoring network with a sustainable funding mechanism.
The Oil and Gas Commission has actively supported the development of the air monitoring network via funding and staff time, and the Commission collects additional air quality information.
The Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministries of Health and Environment will continue to work together in implementing this recommendation.
Recommendation 9: Once additional data for the Northeast B.C. region are available from new monitoring stations or are made available from regulatory submissions, the air quality predictions and human health risk estimates from the detailed human health risk assessment should be revisited.
Response 9: Government accepts this recommendation, and the Ministries of Health and Environment will work with the Oil and Gas Commission in implementing this recommendation.
Led by the Ministry of Environment, the Northeast Air Monitoring project is a multi-phase project to monitor, report, and assess air quality in the Northeast; to reach out to the local community in this process; and to establish a long-term air monitoring network with a sustainable funding mechanism.
The development of the network was consistent with the principles outlined in the framework of the British Columbia Air Monitoring Network.
Recommendation 10: While some aquifer mapping has been completed in Northeast B.C., it is recommended that the existing aquifer mapping (and vulnerability mapping) be expanded for the Northeast B.C. region to help enhance the protection of groundwater resources in relation to oil and gas development. This information would aid in regional and site-specific assessments of potential risks to groundwater. As one of the limitations with the current aquifer mapping relates to an overall absence of subsurface data, it is suggested that surficial geology mapping (on an appropriate scale) for the region be completed as well.
Response 10: Government accepts this recommendation, and the Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministries of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will work together to implement this recommendation.
This will be addressed through the Northeast Water Strategy, managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which includes the Private Well Sampling program.
Early actions include the Geoscience BC Peace Project, which is a collaborative effort that will generate new information about the distribution of shallow aquifers in Northeast B.C.’s Peace Region and their groundwater quantity and quality.
Also, the Northeast Water Tool and Northwest Water Tool are hydrology decision-support tools developed in partnership by the BC Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. They provide guidance on water availability across Northern B.C. and they support decision-making process for water use permits and licenses.
The Oil and Gas Commission currently supports the expansion of aquifer mapping and aquifer vulnerability mapping via directly collecting aquifer and risk data and participating in related projects, and the Ministry of Health is also supporting aquifer characterization efforts within the Northeast Water Strategy.
Recommendation 11: Additional study of groundwater and surface water interactions within shallow aquifers and local ground water flow conditions in the Northeast B.C. region should be completed. This information could contribute to a better understanding of potential contaminant fate and migration. As well, studies could be carried out to investigate the location and sources of groundwater recharges.
Response 11: Government accepts this recommendation, which will be addressed through the Northeast Water Strategy, managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which includes the Private Well Sampling program.
The Private Well Sampling program is a multi-partner effort to characterize aquifers and groundwater chemistry in the Groundbirch/Dawson Creek area. The Ministry of Health is contributing additional contract funding to support this program, including sampling and analysis of isotopic methane in groundwater across a broad number of observation wells in the Northeast.
The Oil and Gas Commission and the Ministries of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will also work closely together to implement this recommendation, as the Oil and Gas Commission’s use of area-based analysis in decision-making manages the impact of oil and gas activities within acceptable levels.
Area-based analysis provides area-specific maps of all industrial activity and sets triggers to protect identified values, including environmental, to reduce the overall impact.
Recommendation 12: Consideration should be given to the overall goals of the existing environmental monitoring programs for soil, water, and biota, along with the presentation and quality of these data within the existing databases, specifically as these relate to the value that these data could provide with respect to human and environmental health.
Response 12: Government accepts this recommendation and will address it through the Northeast Water Strategy, managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and the Northeast water data portal, a key element of the Northeast Water Strategy.
The Northeast Water Data Portal is a map-based water information tool designed to provide public access to a wide range of water-related data and information in the Northeast.
Recommendation 13: The Province should explore tailoring their health surveillance to determine whether or not there are any differences in disease rates in those areas identified in the human health risk assessment with the highest predicted air concentrations. If possible, such future health surveillance would help verify the conclusions of the human health risk assessment.
Response 13: Government accepts this recommendation. The Ministry of Health and Northern Health are conducting preliminary analyses to explore the relationship between air quality and health outcomes in the Northeast to improve future health surveillance. The Oil and Gas Commission and Ministry of Environment will also collaborate in implementing this recommendation.
Recommendation 14: The B.C. air quality objectives should be reviewed and updated based on the existing provincial framework for developing air quality objectives.
Response 14: Government accepts this recommendation. The Interim Ambient Air Quality Objectives for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have been released by the Ministry of Environment and will be reviewed by the Ministry of Environment once the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards are finalized in late 2015.
For the full phase two study and recommendations, visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/protect/oil-gas-assessment.html
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)
Oil and Gas Activities in Northeastern B.C. by British Columbia Ministry of Health
Oil and gas development in B.C. has grown in recent years. The Province is committed to protecting the health of British Columbians, while supporting growth and development.
Some British Columbians have health concerns about oil and gas development, such as air and water quality, and effective regulation of the industry. Another concern is ensuring open and transparent access to health-related information.
In response, the Ministry of Health has undertaken a three-phase human health risk assessment. This assessment is now finished and the final reports have been published. To learn more, read the details below.
Human Health Risk Assessment
The Human Health Risk Assessment, led by the Ministry of Health, identifies, explores and assesses concerns about human health risks relating to oil and gas activities in Northeastern British Columbia. The project began in 2012. All phases have been completed, with the conclusion of Phase 3.
The Human Health Risk Assessment consists of three phases:
- Identified concerns raised by the public and stakeholders in the region relating to oil and gas development.
- Evaluated potential human health concerns related to oil and gas activities, including: a literature review; screening-level and detailed risk assessments; a regulatory review; and recommendations.
- Reporting of findings to the Province, stakeholders and the public.
begun in January 2012, Phase 1 was carried out by the Fraser Basin Council, which the Province contracted to engage with the public and other stakeholders, and compile a report of its findings.
The final report was released on June 6, 2012. It identifies the key issues of concern from over 300 submissions. Concerns identified in respondents feedback included:
- Environmental exposure and related issues – e.g., exposure to hydrogen sulphide or contaminated water, and well-site accidents.
- Oil and gas operational issues – e.g., hydraulic fracturing, emergency response co-ordination, air and water quality, and water quantity.
- Institutional framework issues – e.g., monitoring, compliance and transparency.
View the full report, Identifying Health Concerns Relating to Oil and Gas Development in Northeastern B.C., including the stakeholder submissions:
- Human Health Risk Assessment: Phase 1 Report (PDF 5.4M)
- Human Health Risk Assessment: Phase 1 Compendium of Submissions (PDF 2.4M)
Impacts on air quality from oil and gas development were a key concern expressed by the public and other stakeholders in Phase 1. To provide the best possible information on air quality in the Northeast, the Province will enhance the region’s air quality monitoring network. Visit the Ministry of Environment website to learn more.
The Province awarded a contract to Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc. to undertake Phase 2. The project evaluated potential human health concerns related to oil and gas activities. Intrinsik was awarded the contract following a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process. View the RFP.(PDF 488K)
Phase 2 included the actual human health risk assessment, a jurisdictional scan of past and current studies and related reports, and a review of existing regulations. It focused on potential impacts to air, water, land and food quality and how these may relate to public health. Phase 2 was completed in the spring of 2015.
For more information, see these fact sheets:
Phase 3 (New)
Phase 3 of the Human Health Risk Assessment is the public release of the Phase 2 results. It has now been completed, with the release of the following documents:
Phase 2 Direction Document (PDF 1.1M)
Literature Review (PDF 1.1M)
Review of Regulatory Framework (PDF 2.7M)
Recommendations (PDF 2.2M)
PowerPoint Summary (PDF 3.2M)
The Intrinsik report released March 26, 2015 (dated August 2014): WHERE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY EDITS? Human Health Risk Assessment Summary Report (PDF 1.7M)