Fracking’s effect on water not properly monitored, report finds

1 05 2014

Environment Canada commissioned report by international experts

By Margo McDiarmid, CBC News Posted: Apr 30, 2014 9:21 PM ET Last Updated: May 01, 2014 7:26 AM ET

A new report by a panel of 14 international experts concludes "data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive." A Talisman Energy worker is seen here walking from a shale gas drilling rig in Saint-Edouard-de-Lotbiniere, Que.

A new report by a panel of 14 international experts concludes “data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive.” A Talisman Energy worker is seen here walking from a shale gas drilling rig in Saint-Edouard-de-Lotbiniere, Que. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

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A new report commissioned by Environment Canada says there’s little information about the effects of shale gas development on the environment.

The report by a panel of 14 international experts concludes “data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive.”

In an interview with CBC News, Rick Chalaturnyk, one of the authors of the report and an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, said “additional information needs to be collected to better understand and manage those impacts.”

In a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it has come to be known, energy companies inject chemicals and sand deep underground to fracture the rock and free up natural gas.

That gas can leak into underground drinking water, and the report says it’s not being properly monitored.

It says the government and industry have to do a better job of tracking the effects.

“For large-scale shale gas development now, I don’t think you want to be in a position anymore of just saying, ‘trust me, we know what we’re doing.’ We’re past that,”  Chalaturnyk said.

The anti-shale gas protests in New Brunswick last fall are just part of the growing battle over fracking.

The report says proper research is needed to reassure Canadians who are anxious about their health and suspicious they are not getting the full story.

Former environment minister Peter Kent requested the report in response to ongoing concerns about fracking in Canada.

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