Proposal to ship AIS frack water to New Brunswick raises concern for Colchester County council

Published on August 19, 2014

TRURO - A proposal by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) in Debert to transport treated frack water to Dieppe, N.B. for disposal in that city's municipal sewer system is not sitting well with Colchester County council.

But an AIS representative says that every drop of the 30 million litres of water being proposed would be treated through reverse osmosis and will be completely safe to drink.

"It will meet all the discharge requirements for the Canadian guidelines for unconditional release. So, technically it is so clean we could open the tap and let it go, that's how clean it is," said Clint Stewart, the company's vice-president for enviro systems.

The Dieppe proposal was raised during a recent meeting of Colchester County council when Mayor Bob Taylor reported that he had been interviewed by reporters from CBC's English and French stations on the subject.

"This would amount to three tankers hauling 36,000 litres each, five days a week for two years," Taylor told council.

Taylor said he was left with the impression from those interviews that Dieppe residents believe the issue is being dumped on them because of Colchester County's decision not to let AIS release treated frack waters into its municipal sewer system.

Council ultimately decided to have staff contact the City of Dieppe with an offer of sending a contingent of councillors to New Brunswick to provide first-hand information on what led to Colchester's decision on the matter.

AIS had previously received permission from the Nova Scotia Department of Environment to conduct a pilot test for disposing of two million litres of frack water from the company's holding ponds in Debert by burning it in the kiln at the Lafarge cement plant near Brookfield after it had been treated through reverse osmosis.

During council discussion, Coun. Doug MacInnes questioned why AIS was now proposing to send frack water to New Brunswick, other than to avoid the expense of fully treating it.

"It is extremely disappointing to see what they are doing now," he said, of the prospect of the frack water being released into the Petitcodiac River and eventually into the Bay of Fundy, which Colchester had attempted to avoid by banning the water from its sewer system.

"It is going to ruin the Bay of Fundy," he said. "I cannot trust this company. I've caught them in too many mishaps, or lies, because that's what it is."

Stewart, however, said any concerns about the treated water having a detrimental impact on the environment are based on emotion instead of fact.

"We're looking at cleaning the waters up and then shipping them to New Brunswick for end disposal. So the product will be fully cleaned before it leaves our Debert facility," he said.

"I mean this water, well, there's no other way to describe it, it's completely clean. It is the cleanest water we've never discharged, let's put it that way. This is cleaner than any municipal system it is going into by far," he said.

"Fully drinkable."

Stewart said the company has successfully completed the two-million-litre pilot test at Lafarge and has applied to the province for further testing.

But that is a slow process for disposal, he said, and the Dieppe proposal is part of the company's plan to explore all available options.

Stewart said eight million litres of the frack water remains in Debert and the proposal to ship 30 million litres to New Brunswick includes water being stored in holding ponds in Kennetcook.

If the Dieppe proposal is successful, Stewart said it could also offer a long-term solution for the disposal of water from future fracking operations in that province.

"It looks like there's a brighter future potentially for the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick and we want to start to set up for that as well," he said.

But for anyone who has doubts about the status of the water that has been put through reverse osmosis, Stewart said they are welcome to have it tested themselves.

"This water has been analyzed more than any other water I've seen," he said. "If someone wants to take a sample and go get it analyzed, sure we can provide them with product."

Twitter: @tdnharry