Concern raised over previously undisclosed material contained in fracking wastewater
UPDATED FEB. 1, 5:30 P.M.
TRURO – Revisions to a proposed new sewer-use bylaw for Colchester County should help ease concerns over the potential for disposal of fracking wastewater into the municipal system, Mayor Bob Taylor says.
“They should feel better. They should be more comfortable right now,” Taylor said, shortly after first reading of the proposed bylaw during Thursday night’s council meeting.
“I think it just gives us a little more strength to our bylaw that gives us that jurisdiction to deal as we see fit,” the mayor said, of a change made to the draft bylaw in closed session just prior to it receiving first reading.
The bylaw does not become law until a second reading is held. A public meeting will be held on the issue prior to second reading.
Concern has been raised in the community because Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) in Debert has applied to the municipality for permission to discharge 4.5 million litres of fracking wasterwater, which contains naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs), into the sewer system.
Council has yet to rule on that application. However, the wording change adopted Thursday night prior to first reading, means that should AIS be given approval, it would be administered under the new bylaw, despite the fact the application had been received while the new bylaw was in effect.
Normally, such applications would be governed by any bylaw in effect when the application is made.
And in reference to community concerns that the new bylaw is in someway less restrictive than the existing legislation, Taylor said that is not the case.
“We’re not relaxing them at all. In fact we’re strengthening them. And one of the big things with this is, council can restrict over and above any acceptable limits for any material going in there. We can restrict what we want in there, if we so don’t want it in our system,” he said. “And that’s why we’re going through this process.
When asked what council’s position is regarding the AIS application, Taylor said that has yet to be determined.
“We’ll decide that soon but I think it’s safe to say we’re not very comfortable with it,” he said.
That is especially so, he added, given that the municipality has been alerted to the presence of what are believed to be high levels of chloride (salt) in the fracking wastewater.
“They alerted us to something else." Taylor said. "It’s something that could destroy our system. We feel it’s in the waste water, it’s above acceptable limits and we’ll have to deal with that.”
A decision on the AIS application will not be made prior to second reading of the bylaw.