Newspaper article The Canadian Press

University of New Brunswick Researchers Raise Concerns over Shale Gas Fracking: Researchers Raise Concerns over Fracking

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

University of New Brunswick Researchers Raise Concerns over Shale Gas Fracking: Researchers Raise Concerns over Fracking

Article excerpt

FREDERICTON - Researchers at the University of New Brunswick say shale gas fracking should not proceed in the province unless there is an environmentally sound option for the disposal of waste water that is a by-product of the process.

Four professors at the school released an opinion paper Monday that examines the potential impact on the province's water resources if gas exploration companies begin fracking for shale gas.

They say companies should not be allowed to frack until the saline-contaminated waste water that is forced out of wells can be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

"If groundwater becomes contaminated, it takes years to decades to try to clean up an aquifer system," earth sciences professor Tom Al said Monday. "The best approach is prevention."

The study said conventional water treatment is not able to remove the high concentrations of salts and other toxic and biologically disruptive compounds that are generated in waste water derived from fracking.

But the professors say the waste water can be recycled, disposed of at proper sites, or in some cases pumped deep underground into saline aquifers. But Al said it's unclear whether that option would be available in New Brunswick because of the province's geology.

The professors suggest that companies should consider using carbon dioxide or liquefied propane gas for fracking instead of water.

"You eliminate all the water-related issues that we're raising, and that people have raised in general across North America," Al said.

Annie Daigle, a water specialist with the province's Natural Resources Department, said liquefied propane gas has been used to frack some wells in New Brunswick already, but it's not the best choice in every case because of the province's geological makeup.

"It has been used successfully by Corridor Resources here in New Brunswick for lower volume hydraulic fracturing operations, but it is still a fairly new technology," Daigle said.

According to the department, three test wells for shale gas were drilled in New Brunswick between 2008 and 2010 and all three were fracked. …

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