Scientific panel outlines just how much we know — about what we don’t know — when it comes to regulatory oversight, water usage, earthquakes and radioactive waste
Oil and gas development near Farmingtion, B.C. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal
Although a government-commissioned scientific review of fracking in British Columbia released earlier this month occupies some 232 pages, the word “concerns,” as in “concerns regarding environmental impact,” pops up more than 130 times.
That’s a lot of scientific apprehension about a technology that serves as the foundation for the province’s growing liquefied natural gas industry.
More than 90 per cent of all oil and gas wells in B.C. require extensive fracking, which pulverizes hydrocarbon-bearing rock with highly pressurized streams of water, sand and chemicals.
In its final report, the three-member scientific panel tasked with the review expressed “concerns” about every part of its limited investigation, particularly around water, seismic hazards and gas migration.
(It’s worth noting the review did not look at public health issues, cumulative land impacts, social costs, or the industry’s poor economic health or worker safety.)
The paucity of the data the researchers drew upon, perhaps, explains the proliferation of so many “concerns” in the review.
The word insufficient, as in “insufficient information,” peppers the report 27 times, while “unknown” appears 17 times.
Uncertain or uncertainty, as in “uncertain water quality,” appears nearly 50 times, while gaps, as in “important knowledge gaps,” litters the document 27 times.
Here’s a brief snapshot of eight “insufficient” and “unknown” data gaps the government of B.C., a proponent of LNG terminals, still faces regarding the impacts of the fracking industry on water, earthquakes and gas migration. MORE