SYDNEY, N.S. — Nova Scotia’s new expert panel on hydraulic fracturing is scheduled to have its first meeting next week in Halifax.
The nine members were announced Wednesday by panel chair David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, who says the first meeting is expected to develop a blueprint on how the panel will conduct its examination of the process.
Wheeler, an expert on water quality and groundwater pollution, says the Halifax meeting is set for Feb. 12.
He says a final panel report should be ready in June.
The eight men and one woman on the panel are mandated to examine the social, economic, environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, and were appointed after the provincial government abandoned its own review of the process, explaining it favoured a more independent study.
Hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — involves forcing a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well bore to split the surrounding shale rock in a bid to release encased hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, coal bed methane or crude oil.
People opposed to the process say fracking contaminates groundwater and creates a toxic waste water byproduct, while supporters contend it is safe and is a less expensive process to detect gas deposits in order to reduce further dependence on fossil fuels.