Town says no to 'fracking'
Councillor Jamie King at NOTL Town Council on Monday, Oct. 31.
'Fracking' isn't a word found in the dictionary, but it is something Councillor Jamie King thinks Niagara-on-the-Lake residents should understand and be concerned about.
Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - involves "literally millions of gallons" of water, King told councillors at Monday's meeting, containing sand and chemicals pumped underground to break apart shale rock at high pressure to create wells that release natural gas, King told councillors.
The natural gas floats to the surface after the wells are created.
"These well sites are not a concern. Our concern is the treating of the fracking waste water which will be brought from Pennsylvania to a water treatment facility in Niagara Falls, NY."
King said the Niagara Falls water board in NY wants to treat fracking wastewater in their wastewater treatment system, but it is difficult to remove the chemicals from the "toxic stew."
He has learned there is naturally-occurring radiation from the process and he believes there should be a discussion with all of the surrounding communities, he said.
The councillor asked for a dialogue between Canada and the US and to consider the impacts on the environment, people who use the water and the treatment of fracking wastewater in the Great Lakes.
"We need to be proactive instead of reactive. I'm asking for Town's support to slow the process down. I believe much more info must be brought to council."
King said as a waterfront community NOTL is the "front line of discussion for the Niagara region.
"One drop of fracking fluid in our river is one drop too much."
The impacts from the chemical wastewater could potentially have affects on the vineyards, agriculture, fresh fruit, tourism, and the local ecosystem, said King.
He said he is also concerned cancer rates are tied to the consumption of water from the Niagara River.
"I had no idea something like this was going on at all until it was brought to my attention by Jamie," said Councillor Maria Bau Coote., who then investigated the chemicals which are used in the fracking process-and discovered it was a long list.
"It was unbelievable and shocking."
After a unanimous vote, councillors agreed to support a province-wide and national moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and the treatment of its wastewater within the Great Lakes Basin until a public discussion has occurred with the full consideration of its impacts.
The councillors also requested the support of the Niagara region.
Information about fracking and the council's decision will be forwarded representatives from both federal and provincial levels of government, the city of Niagara Falls, NY and the Niagara Falls water board.
Lord Mayor David Eke concluded the discussion and said he was grateful to have this information brought to his attention. He thanked King for all of his hard work and effort to keep NOTL's drinking water clean and safe.
"I think it sends a strong message with the unanimous support of the councillors."