TRURO - A new draft bylaw regarding sewer use in Colchester County will be presented for first reading at the next council meeting at month’s end.
A presentation of a draft bylaw was made to council Thursday night and, if approved, the revised regulations would ban radioactive wastewater from being disposed into the municipal system if it is "in excess of concentrations greater than those permitted for release into the environment by federal regulations and provincial regulations.”
The existing bylaw was put in place in 1966 and last updated in 2001.
"We have tried to address many of the concerns that have recently been brought to council," Public Works director Ramesh Ummat said, during presentation of the draft.
One of those concerns surrounds an application by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) in Debert to dispose of wastewater from fracking activities that took place in Kennetcook, Hants County, into Colchester County’s municipal sewer system.
The company is currently storing 15.5 million litres of fracking wastewater in manmade holding ponds at the site and has applied to the county for permission to dispose of an initial 4.5 million litres of the wastewater. If successful, it is expected the company would apply to also dispose of the remaining 11 million litres.
The public concern with the water, however, is that it contains naturally occurring radioactive materials that are released through the fracking process. Treated waste that runs through the county’s sewer system eventually ends up in the Bay of Fundy and the concern is that the radioactive material would end up polluting the ocean-bound water.
The county decided to re-draft its sewer use bylaw to better deal with such requests in an effort to protect its interests without adversely affecting waste disposal from existing local industrial operations.
In addition to wording that specifically addresses radioactive waste material, the draft bylaw also contains a provision for the municipality to ban “any other substances as may be determined by council from time to time …”
"Ramesh, could we be as broad as saying any material that results from drilling for gas or oil?" deputy mayor Bill Masters asked Ummat regarding wording to be contained in the bylaw.
He was assured that the bylaw will give council that authority.
The draft bylaw also updates and enhances a number of other sections of the municipal sewer use regulations.