Pilot project proposal for disposal of fracking waste receives support

Harry Sullivan hsullivan@trurodaily.com
Published on May 16, 2014
Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield.

TRURO - A proposed pilot project that would see the Lafarge cement plant disposing treated frack water in its kiln is receiving the official blessing from Colchester County County.

"I would certainly endorse this," Coun. Doug MacInnes said,during discussion at Thursday night's council committee meeting, regarding a request from Lafarge plant manager Scarth MacDonnell for a letter of support for its proposal. "Let's hope they clean it all up."

The Brookfield plant has received approval from the environment department to dispose two-million litres of treated frack water from Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) in Debert by using the flow water to cool its high-temperature kiln.

During a recent public meeting when the approval was announced, however, a number of concerns about the practice were raised and MacDonnell told council the company wanted to ensure it also had the municipality's support before proceeding.

"We heard (the concerns) loud and clear," he told council.

One of those concerns pertains to whether harmful elements would be released from the cement plant's smoke stacks during the burning process.

In response, MacDonnell said the company plans to conduct stack tests to ensure there is no danger to the environment. Those tests, along with all other pertinent information related to the disposal process will be made public on the company's website, he said.

In addition to reverse osmosis, the overall treatment process by AIS for the frack water involves a chain of methods, including biological treatment, nano-filteration and activated charcoal filtration to bring the flow water back to acceptable municipal standards of physical, chemical, biological and radiological parameters, a county staff report said.

As well, MacDonnell said the contents of every truck that arrives at the site will be tested to ensure that all the frack water has been treated through the reverse osmosis process.

"So we're trying to be as transparent as possible," he said. "We're happy to share the results with the community."

While some councillors expressed opposition to a letter of support, MacDonnell said Department of Environment Minister Randy Delorey made assurances during his recent announcement in Truro that the "science is sound" surrounding the treatment process for the frack water.

"I'm not concerned from a liability perspective, it's more of a political decision," MacDonnell said.

Deputy Mayor Bill Masters also reminded council that if it does not support the Lafarge proposal as being an "acceptable alternative" for disposal, AIS has an open application on file with the municipality to dispose of the more that 10 million litres of treated frack water in its holding ponds through the municipal sewer system.

Mayor Bob Taylor said he also supports the Lafarge proposal.

"This is the best option," he said. "I have no problem. It's a trial, it a different story if the stack test doesn't work."


Twitter: @tdnharry