Fracking, landslide blamed for contamination of Northern B.C. creek, B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission says ‘no evidence’ that fracking to blame, heavy metals naturally in soil by Betsy Trumpener, October 25, 2015, CBC News
A relentless landslide that’s contaminated a source of drinking water near a community in northeastern B.C. has residents blaming oil and gas exploration’s effects underground for causing the slide that’s contaminating the creek with silt and heavy metals.
Farmers and ranchers near Hudson’s Hope say they’ve lost their sole water source and blame landslides on changes to underground aquifers and land stability because of nearby fracking and the effect of two nearby hydro dams, but officials say there is no proof of this.
There’s “no evidence” that five fracking and disposal wells in the area are associated with the landslide.
– internal report prepared by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission
“I have no water,” said Rhee Simpson, who has lived and farmed along Brenot Creek for 62 years.
“You can’t play in it. You can’t fish in it. You can’t drink it. Your stock can’t drink it. Someone has to do something to get our water back.”
Brenot Creek has long carried clean water to families, crops and cattle near Hudson’s Hope in northeastern B.C. The creek is a tributary of Lynx Creek, whose water eventually flows into the nearby Peace River.
Last year, a landslide started oozing grey mud, filling the creek with silt and sand. Tests by the Ministry of the Environment showed dangerously high concentrations of heavy metals, including lead, barium, cadmium, and arsenic.
In September 2014, the District of Hudson’s Hope and Northern Health issued an advisory to stop using the creek’s water for drinking, stock watering or farm irrigation.
“Clean water is essential for life and all of us need to feel confident that the ground and surface water we all depend on is of good quality. We will continue to press for answers to how exotic metals came to be present in the groundwater,” Mayor Gwen Johansson wrote on the District of Hudson’s Hope website in January.
Since then, debris has continued to slide, filling the creek with heavy metal silts and sand.
“My wife grew up on that farm and used to catch fish in that creek. It’s dead. It’s hard to watch,” said resident Leigh Summer.
The mayor said this summer there was so much heavy metal silt it created a visible debris plume and sandbar in the Peace River.
“It’s a real concern.”
– Mayor Gwen Johansson, Hudson’s Hope
Johansson continues to search for answers as to why this is happening and who will pay for any clean-up.
“There’s a lot of vulnerabilities in this area as far as water is concerned.” she told CBC News. “It’s a real concern.”
In the past [AND CONTINUES TO], hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the region has triggered earthquakes. …
However, an internal report prepared by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission, and obtained by CBC News, states there’s “no evidence” that five fracking and disposal wells in the area are associated with the landslide. The report also notes a “prevalence of natural metals” in the soil and historic instability in the area.
“I have no water,” said Rhee Simpson, who has lived and farmed along Brenot Creek for 62 years
The commission says the heavy metals found in the silts and sands of the creek occur naturally and the area is prone to landslides.
In an email to CBC News, commission spokesman Alan Clay says heavy metals were present in the region’s soil prior to oil and gas activity.
In response to queries from CBC News, David Karn from the Ministry of Environment says several government ministries will now tour the slide zone to re-assess the situation and re-test local water.
Residents says landslide continues
Meanwhile, Simpson’s neighbour, Leigh Summer says the slide is so unusual he calls it “landsliding.”
“This thing is continuous,” Summer said.
“It’s dead. It’s hard to watch.”
– Leigh Summer
“It’s been 24 hours a day for two years. Stuff is literally falling in there as you stand there and watch.”
“We can no longer water,” he said, breaking into tears. “We can longer irrigate, we can no longer allow our children to play in the creek.”
“My wife grew up on that farm and used to catch fish in that creek. It’s dead. It’s hard to watch really.”
Summer and Simpson blame the pressures of nearby industries — two BC Hydro dams with the Williston reservoir, and a high-density fracking zone. Summer said he believes those industries may have had an impact on the underground aquifers.
Simpson agreed. “Where is the chemicals and junk coming from?” he asked. “I highly believe it’s coming from the fracking. I personally think what they pushed into the ground, has got to come up.” [Where are the enabling regulators and expertrs that keep saying regulations will make fracing safe, and monitoring will protect groundwater?]
One of the comments:
“The commission says the heavy metals found in the silts and sands of the creek occur naturally and the area is prone to landslides.”
Really? The area is prone to landslides and they just let fracking go on without impediment? These sound like the kind of idiots that would set up a rock concert in an avalanche area then tell people the resulting chaos isn’t their fault.
“The MoE representative said they have no plans to do anything further, other than file a report. He said he expected that eventually the creek would cleanse itself. That seems pretty inadequate. Test results show levels of exotic metals such as lithium, barium, cadmium and others to be significantly above guidelines. They are not normally found in shallow ground or surface water. They have not shown up at those levels in any previous testing in the area, and I am not aware of similar readings being found anywhere in the northeast or the province. Some of the metals are toxic. They pose a risk to human and animal health.”
Gwen Johansson, Mayor Hudson’s Hope
[Refer also to:
2014 09 13: Heavily frac’d Hudson’s Hope, BC, issues water advisory: “A resident…observed a substance surfacing into the Brenot Creek.” Do not “use the water from Lynx Creek and Brenot Creek” for drinking water, livestock watering, irrigation … “At this time we cannot comment on the water quality of water wells that are within the proximity of the contaminated site.”
“Boiling water will not make the water potable,” the district warns. Abstain from using the water until further notice.
The contaminants discovered include:
The source of the contamination – and whether it is related to local shale gas activity – is unclear at the moment.
A resident, late last week, observed a substance surfacing into the Brenot Creek.
Water Quality Advisory
The District of Hudson’s Hope is advising its residents not to use the water from Lynx Creek and Brenot Creek for drinking water, for livestock watering, and irrigation due to the presence of heavy metals (aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, and uranium) at concentrations above the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines.