Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Expert Calls for Go-Slow Approach for Hydraulic Fracturing

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Expert Calls for Go-Slow Approach for Hydraulic Fracturing

Article excerpt

Nova Scotia told to go slow on fracking

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HALIFAX - A new study on the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on the health of Nova Scotians is recommending the provincial government adopt a go-slow approach with the emerging industry.

The report, prepared by the province's deputy chief medical officer, says it will take time, effort and investment to put measures in place to protect the public's health.

"As others have noted, the (oil and gas) resources have been in place for millennia and are not going to disappear any time soon," Frank Atherton says in the report, released late Monday.

"In the interests of public health, Nova Scotia should take the time and make the necessary investments to ensure that proper regulation, management, mitigation and monitoring measures are established."

Barb Harris, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, lauded Atherton's cautious approach.

"I think he's being really honest that we know about some risks, but we don't know about others, and that some of what we don't know could be extremely serious," said Harris, an environmental health researcher.

"I think what Dr. Atherton is hinting at ... is that there's another option, which is slow down."

The association is calling for a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, which Harris says would give the province enough time to set up proper regulations, monitoring and enforcement.

"It's important because this is a relatively new industry," Harris said Tuesday. "It's not just how close (these wells) can get to homes, it's the scale of the industry. It spreads all over the place. ... And you can't do serious monitoring without investing a lot of money into it."

In 2012, the Nova Scotia government placed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, saying it needed more time to study the rapidly growing industry. It appointed a panel of experts to seek public input and make recommendations through a series of reports.

Atherton's go-slow approach mirrors a key recommendation made in April by a panel of top Canadian scientists. …

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