Website for fracking fluid disclosure planned by Victoria Paterson, March 6, 2012, Mountainview Gazette
Alberta’s energy regulator is heading towards a searchable online database disclosing the contents of fracking fluid – eventually.
Cal Hill, the executive manager of the regulatory development branch of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), confirmed the intention to have a website during a technical briefing for media on Feb. 17. ERCB spokesperson Bob Curran said the website is a ways off from being up and running. “All he said was we’re moving towards that,” Curran said in an interview last Wednesday. The website could go live near the end of the year but that is not a firm deadline, Curran said. “It’s in its early stages,” Curran said. “They don’t know how it’s going to be structured.”
Curran said it has not been determined what information will be included on the website – such as the amounts of chemicals in the mixtures, how any potential concerns about proprietary information will be addressed or if only new wells will have their information go online.
It’s possible Alberta could partner with other fracturing fluid disclosure sites to deliver the database, Curran said. FracFocus.ca is a new site where B.C. enforces public fracking fluid chemical disclosure. It was launched at the beginning of January. … Currently in Alberta, information on fracking fluid contents is available to the public if they call the ERCB, officials have said. Companies do have to report the chemicals being used to the ERCB who will share the information. “We really have had almost virtually no requests,” Curran said.
Paul Michna, a spokesperson for Alberta Energy, said while ERCB will be facilitating the website, the government department is willing to help their efforts. “We stand ready to support that,” Michna said, adding that it might be in the form of legal support. “There is a general sense out there this is a concern,” he said of public interest and concerns about what chemicals are used in fracking.
Curran said ERCB regulations around wellbore integrity ensure there is no contact between the fracking fluids and groundwater, soil and so on.
“The rules are extraordinarily strict regarding the handling of those materials,” he said. “Provided the rules are followed … none of those products … should ever contact groundwater or the surface.”
Curran said there have been no documented cases of hydraulic fracturing wells affecting groundwater. He said there have been cases of fracking fluid reaching the surface and contacting the ground. An ERCB summary shows that the fluids expelled during the Jan. 13 well blowout near Glennifer Lake, about 25 kilometres west of Innisfail, contained fracturing fluid consisting of fracturing oil, sand and nitrogen. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: ERCB Lawyer to Ernst, April 24, 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids.
“FracFocus is just a fig leaf for the industry to be able to say they’re doing something in terms of disclosure” Voluntary Fracking Reporting? Bloomberg: Chemicals Not Reported, Half of All Wells “Obscured”