Fracking Rocky View County


"How The West Is Now." The Cowboy Trail becomes another "Frack Alley" north of Cochrane, Alberta. Companies prepare to frack a well near Cochrane's new residential neighbourhood of Sunset Ridge. October 2013

As countries and other jurisdictions around the world say no to hydraulic fracturing and the toxic industrialization of their communities, Alberta has embraced it. 

One such county in Alberta, abutting Calgary, where the unconventional hydraulic fracturing experiment has been underway since 2009, has undergone a massive industrialization transformation and downsizing of public safety services (when homes, schools, businesses or water wells explode and burn – who are you going to call and how does that happen)? 

A devastated landscape, reports of sick and dying pets and livestock, earthquakes and structural damage to homes and outbuildings, contaminated water, air and land, road destruction, decimation of property values, livelihoods and residents' enjoyment of their homes and health being severely impacted - continue to increase - with no help or protection, offered or supplied, to those affected.

After drilling and fracking 80+ energy wells in an area of Rocky View County that was once known as "The Jewel of the County," reportedly, the plan is to drill and frack over 3000 more, this of course doesn't include the drilling and fracking of one of "Canada's Richest Postal Codes," or the City of Calgary.

For those countries and jurisdictions who have banned and criminalized the use of hydraulic fracturing or are considering such, we will update this page, and others, as the impacts and devastation continue to increase in these areas of Alberta. 

We think it's important (and heartbreaking) to document the impacts and decimation of an area known for its stunning beauty, sprawling ranches, world famous beef and agriculture, cowboy history and down-home hospitality.  We hope this glimpse into the beginning stages of an oil and gas industry invasion, will galvanize others to stand and say no, protect their communities, their life-sources, and all they hold dear - before it's too late. 


Oil Activity Continues to Grow in Big Hill Springs Area

'It’s an example of how we are trying to minimize the impact.'

A home and outbuildings on Lochend Road near Calgary, Rocky View County AlbertaBy Rachel Maclean, September 21, 2010, Cochrane Eagle
The appearance of oil wells popping up along Big Hill Springs Road has caused some concern to local residents who have no idea what the scope of the oil activity is in the region.
One company in the area,  Calgary-based NAL Resources, released an update Sept. 13 on its operations. While the company also has projects in Saskatchewan, drilling locally started in 2009 with one well.
After positive initial findings, NAL decided to expand its operations in the area. To date, the company has drilled two more cardium oil wells in the area along Big Hill Springs Road (Highway 567) — one near Lochend Road and another on Range Road 40.
... Drilling this type of oil became more commonplace in 2009 with the new technology of directional drilling, which bores down through the earth’s layers 2,000 metres and then heads out horizontally more than 1,000 metres to access oil in the source rock.
A new 'good neighbor' multi-well pad moves in. Lochend Road, Rocky View County AlbertaIt is considered more efficient than vertical drilling because vertical drills only target a very specific location.
Horizontal drilling allows the rig to access oil pockets, and with the addition of “fracking,” or fracture simulating to open up the rock a little bit, it allows the oil to flow better.
“Those two things in combination are giving enough economic return to make it viable,” said Paradis, adding that while horizontal drills cost two to three times more than a vertical well the company is getting four to five more times the production rate.
It also allows for pad drilling where multiple horizontal wells are drilled out of one location.
“It’s much more efficient from a surface land perspective,” said Paradis.
“It’s an example of how we are trying to minimize the impact.”
... He said the company is not allowed to venture onto a landowners property without permission, and if the landowner doesn’t agree to a surface rights agreement then NAL is not able to use that land.
... There are also plans to build a pipeline in co-operation with other oil producers in the area because of a directive from the ERCB for gas conservation, which doesn’t allow for gas flares at a well. ... more.

Local Group Presents Workshop On The ‘Dangers’ Of Fracking

Concerned residents put together a workshop and run an ad in the local papers to inform others.
By Rachel Maclean, September 7, 2011, Cochrane Eagle
A group of northwest Rocky View residents have banded together to resist the practise of hydraulic fracturing as oil companies continue to drill more wells in the area.
Called Protecting Our Water and Ecological Resources Society (POWERS), the group is holding a free workshop at the Cochrane RancheHouse Sept. 10 from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“When we came to understand what fracking was we became deeply concerned,” said POWERS member Patricia Pearsall, who lives in Cochrane but owns land north of town.
The society has invited two speakers: Jessica Ernst and Andrew Nikiforuk.
Ernst, a resident of Rosebud just southwest of Drumheller, is currently in the process of suing EnCana for what she claims was a contamination of methane and other toxins in her well water. She also launched a lawsuit against the Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB) and Alberta Environment for what she describes as a lack of regulation and inspection. The ERCB maintains that naturally-occurring conditions were likely the cause of contamination in Rosebud-area wells.
Nikiforuk is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. His latest book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the continental impact of the oil sands.
Pearsall said POWERS, which is not affiliated with a political party or environmental group, wants a moratorium on multi-stage high volume horizontal fracturing “until independent scientists can verify it’s safety.” Known as fracking in the industry, it’s a technology used by oil and gas companies to reach resources that were previously deemed to be too expensive to access by conventional drilling.
Once a well is tapped with directional drilling, where oil companies dig down to a depth of roughly 2,000 metres then drill out horizontally, gallons of water, sand and undisclosed proprietary chemicals are injected under high pressure into a well.
The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas or oil to flow more freely out of the well.
Marlon McDougall, the former vice-president of NAL Resources, a major player in the oil activity north of Cochrane, said in a previous interview with the Eagle that the technique has been used in the industry for decades and most companies encase the well in cement.
He did say, however, the science surrounding it often comes from service providers that conduct the fracking. ... more.

Local Residents Face Off Against An Oil Company In Bearspaw

The land has been in his family since 1905, and Bancroft would like to keep it pristine.

By Rachel Maclean, September 7, 2011, Cochrane Eagle

An 87-year-old landowner east of Cochrane is fighting to keep his area free of oil activity after a local company proposed a new operation on his land.
Calgary-based Bernum Petroleum has a proposed well on a 1.8-hectares (4.5 acres) lease roughly seven kilometres east of Cochrane.
In a success-case scenario with its initial well, Bernum would also look to drill follow-up wells on offsetting Crown lands from the same surface location so as to minimize the environmental impact and the impact on area stakeholders.
“We don’t want it on our land,” said landowner Timothy Bancroft, adding pumpjacks and storage tanks don’t blend well with a rural landscape.
The land has been in his family since 1905, and Bancroft would like to keep it pristine.
Bancroft appealed the plans at an Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB) hearing that took place Aug. 30-31, his only line of defence.
Nearby resident Bogdan Motoc, who would be roughly 500 metres from the proposed well site, supports Bancroft but since he doesn’t live within 150 metres he had no standing at the hearing.
Along with other neighbours, Motoc’s recent request for standing was denied.
“This is a development I will see from my kitchen, master bedroom and south porch,” said Motoc.
He said among other things, he is concerned about the property value of his home.

“Who would buy a house, be it on four acres, if it has . . . pumpjacks behind it,” said Motoc. ... more.


 In your face industrialization - Rocky View County, Alberta 2013

Oil Company Holds Local Open House

McDougall said NAL takes about 15 days to drill and another 15 days to complete a well, leaving behind an electrically-operated pump jack that has a small footprint.

... “There is nothing toxic or something people should be worried about.”

By Enrique Massot, May 24, 2011, Cochrane Eagle

A representative of an energy resource company says extracting oil and gas from the Lochend area in northwest Rocky View should proceed smoothly, in a spirit of co-operation with the area landowners.
“We hope to educate people about what we do here,” said Marlon McDougall, chief operating officer with NAL Resources.

The company, which has already drilled five wells, held a well-attended open house at Weedon Hall May 18.

McDougall said NAL takes about 15 days to drill and another 15 days to complete a well, leaving behind an electrically-operated pump jack that has a small footprint.

“We want to locate the wells as far from open view as possible,” said McDougall. “We are upfront to negotiate location with people.”

... NAL tests all water wells located 600 metres from a well centre, prior to start operations.

“But if a landowner feels he has been impacted, we can go back and test it again,” he added.

However, he added the company makes a point of consulting with residents about setback distances from wells to residences.

“Just because there is a regulation does not mean it’s the right answer,” he said.
Not all operations, however, have gone totally according to plans, he admitted.
“We are not perfect — some of our operations have not gone as expected,” he said. “However, there have not been major issues.”

However, McDougall said he expects an open house, such as the one on May 18, will open a more active dialogue allowing the company to learn about any concerns from residents.
NAL Resources, along with other companies operating in the area, use a technique called hydraulic fracturing to help release oil tightly held in rock formations deep underground. The composition of fluids injected under high pressure cannot be revealed because of proprietor confidentiality of the companies manufacturing the fluids, McDougall said.
However, he added, “There is nothing toxic or something people should be worried about.”
McDougall said the company is moving towards using water to exclusively fracture the rocks.
To that end, NAL wants to move away from using fresh water, and begin using saline water extracted from operations in other areas.

... McDougall said the company could have held an open house sooner since the beginning of its operations in the area last year, but he said the first handful of wells were done in an experimental manner, and more recently the company realized it will be in the area for the long haul.
“The results are encouraging,” he said. “It got us focused on continuing.”

Participants in the open house entered a draw to have a $1,000 donation made to one of four local charities in their name.

Jessica Brennan of NAL Resources said Westbrook School was designated the beneficiary of the donation. ... more.

Reportedly, without consulting the community, Bonavista Energy sets up shop near the community cornerstone of Westbrook School K-8 - Rocky View County, Alberta - October 2013

“…As pediatricians specializing in environmental medicine, we at The Center for Children’s Environmental Health are opposed to the current use of hydraulic fracturing not only due to the multiple known risks to children’s health, but also due to the substantial lack of research into the health effects of this practice. While this particular void in research is prominent and must be addressed, multiple health concerns have already been brought up by a wide range of individuals and groups, from rural communities to political bodies and environmental organizations to public health experts." ... more.


Reportedly, without consulting the community, Bonavista Energy drills near the community cornerstone of Westbrook School K-8 - Rocky View County, Alberta - October 2013 


The LIPG donated $20 to one of four organizations for each survey completed. Cochrane SPCA received $360, Westbrook School, $540, 4-H, $420 and Cochrane High School, $140.

By Derek Clouthier, Aug 01, 2013, Cochrane Eagle

The Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG) is confident the majority of residents who reside in the Lochend area support oil and gas development in their backyard following a survey conducted by the group in May.

... The LIPG – consisting of Pengrowth Energy, Lightstream Resources, Tamarack Valley Energy and TriOil Resources – is a collection of four energy companies that operate in the Lochend area, located just northeast of Cochrane.

... “It gives us confidence that our neighbours agree that responsible development can take place without putting at risk the rural lifestyle they enjoy,” said Stewart.

One Lochend-area resident, however, is not so sure the LIPG tried as hard as it claimed to reach out to households.

“We did not receive a survey and question the effort made to deliver a survey to us,” said Neille Hawkwood. “An informal survey of our neighbours revealed that none of our acquaintances in the area received the survey. The suggestion that there were only 16 households which did not receive the survey appears to be an understatement.”

Hawkwood believes the LIPG should not have had any issues contacting her family, as they have had frequent visits from industry representatives and said they are very familiar with her land location and contact information.

Hawkwood also questions the size of the pool who responded to the survey.

“Results of any survey with a 23 per cent return rate does not represent a valid indication of overall opinion,” said Hawkwood. “The suggestion that results of this survey indicate Lochend area residents being ‘on board’ with the oil and gas companies working in the area seems to be a very far stretch of the imagination.” ... more.


A night frack in Rocky View County, Alberta, where companies are fracking for oil - 2011


Cochrane Residents Meet to Discuss Fracking Concerns

'We felt that we were living in a nice healthy area. We raised our children here. I'm glad my sons no longer live at home.'

CBC News, Sep 27, 2012
Local ranchers say they are noticing tremors in the ground, cancer in their animals and odd health side effects.
Area resident Nielle Hawkwood says it's heartbreaking.
'We've ranched here for 32 years, and you know we don't make a lot of money ranching but we love the lifestyle,' she said. 'We felt that we were living in a nice healthy area. We raised our children here. I'm glad my sons no longer live at home.'
The group — Cochrane Area Under Siege Coalition — say they want a moritorium on fracking until the oil and gas companies can prove it's safe. ... more.


NAL Resources Holds Open House

By The Eagle, May 10, 2011, Cochrane Eagle
“Through responsible resource development we have a long term commitment to the community to conduct safe operations and minimize the impact on the environment,” reads a paid advertisement in the May 4 Cochrane Eagle. ... more.

NAL Energy Corporation Announces Resignation

CALGARY, ALBERTA, Marketwire - June 27, 2011
NAL Energy Corporation ("NAL" or the "Corporation") (TSX:NAE) announces the resignation of Marlon McDougall as Vice President, Operations and Chief Operating Officer, effective June 28, 2011. After five years with NAL, Mr. McDougall has decided to pursue another opportunity in the oil & gas industry. ... more.

LIPG Toxic Waste Dumped in Rocky View County

... a charge the LIPG do not deny, but say it was an ‘isolated incident.’

NAL well near toxic dumping site - Rocky View County, AlbertaCAUS Holds Second Meeting To Address Fracking 

By Derek Clouthier, Oct 03, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

... Another claim brought to the attention of attendees during the CAUS meeting was the allegation that the group had caught an LIPG member company dumping frack fluid – water treated with a series of chemicals and pumped into the ground to fracture underlying rock to release oil and/or gas – onto the road and into a ditch…a charge the LIPG do not deny, but say it was an ‘isolated incident.’

“A trucking company driver, contracted by one of the member companies, did not follow proper company policy and government regulation,” said the LIPG. “The incident involved a truck driver stopping and draining what he thought was excess fresh water on the county road. Unfortunately, the driver was not aware that the tank had been used to transfer oil within the trucking company’s yard prior to being loaded with fresh water, and as a result, a trace of oil remained in the tank.”  

... more.







Comment from resident who provided pictures of the dumping: 

I realize, "we've been fracking for 60 years," so where has the dumper been working that he would think this was "fresh water?" After attending this site, it's hard to believe "the driver was not aware" of the black and foul smelling goop he laid out all the way to the intersection.  

If this is how the LIPG defines "stopping and draining" and "trace," then to prevent any further surprises, perhaps they could provide more of their definitions, with pictures, and post them to their websites.  

This was nasty, with a diesel-like stench permeating the air and it was rather challenging taking these photos with the regulator and company "emergency response plan" responders swarming the site. If you look really closely, you won't see them - perhaps due to their transparency.

These photos were taken almost two days after the dump, and with no responders or regulator present, no warning signs posted, nothing stopping people from driving or walking through it, thank goodness the dumper, or anyone else, didn't toss a cigarette or cause a spark. So why didn't our "world-class" regulations prevent this?  And will we ever know what was actually dumped here?  Pathetic.  


Oilfield Waste Dumping - Rocky View County, Alberta Canada - LIPG member company, NAL, attempted to clean it up as a 'good neighbor' gesture. - Feb. 2012  

 Same LIPG mess - Feb. 2012

NAL Resources drilling up Rocky View County, Alberta




Pengrowth to Buy NAL Energy in Friendly Stock Deal

By Edward Welsch, Updated March 23, 2012, Wall Street Journal
Pengrowth Energy Corp. PGH -1.26%  said Friday it will acquire rival Western Canada oil-and-gas producer NAL Energy Corp. in an all-stock deal ...

... The companies already have some ties. Marlon McDougall, a former top executive at NAL, joined Pengrowth as chief operating officer last August. ... more.
Pengrowth takes over NAL Resources and their wells. More wells drilled and fracked and Petrobakken changes their name to Lightstream Resources.

Clash Over Local Drilling

'We found it patronising and insulting to sit there listening to a lecture on how to maintain our water wells when they're actually making toxic soup in our communities'

By Sarah Junkin, November 30, 2011, p. 6, Cochrane Times

Tempers flared at an open house held Nov.23 after local residents concerned about the intensity of drilling in the area, felt they weren't being listened to by some oil and gas producers.

... after keynote speaker, Grant Nielsen from Stantec Consulting made a presentation on the importance of maintaining water wells, a group known as POWERS Alberta took exception to the fact there was to be no public question and answer session.

'We found it patronising and insulting to sit there listening to a lecture on how to maintain our water wells when they're actually making toxic soup in our communities,' Pearsall-Pickup said, adding she didn't understand why there wasn't a question and answer session afterwards. 'Why did we have to go in secret to each of these booths?'

 ... she believes local residents should be wary of the fact that the oil company representatives wouldn't allow questions from the floor.

'This is our home, this is our land ... what do they have to hide? It's a typical manoeuvre by oil and gas to get us to shut up.' ... more.


Fracking Issue In Spotlight Once Again

“It’s all about those 40 questions. We did (it) to better understand (if) we were in a clear and present danger…and yes we were. These 40 questions were sent, not to the LIPG, (but) to individual oil companies, which have now formed as the LIPG. Until hours before the open house, we had received not one answer. We were completely ignored.”

By Derek Clouthier, November 30, 2011, Cochrane Eagle
Personalities collided during an open house hosted by Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG) at the RancheHouse on Nov. 23.
The energy group, which is comprised of five regional oil and gas companies, were on hand to answer questions and concerns from Cochrane and area residents about proposed fracking operations in the Lochend area.
Responding to questions through CMR Consulting consultant Carolyn Moore-Robin, Lance Berg, a business unit manager for LIPG, said questions posed to the group during the open house addressed water safety, reducing overall impact (such as noise and traffic) and what chemicals are used in the frack fluid itself.
... “We found the open house extremely disturbing,” said POWERS coordinator Patty Pickup, who emphasized the importance of a set of 40 questions her group submitted to several oil and gas companies nearly eight months ago.
“It’s all about those 40 questions. We did (it) to better understand (if) we were in a clear and present danger…and yes we were. These 40 questions were sent, not to the LIPG, (but) to individual oil companies, which have now formed as the LIPG. Until hours before the open house, we had received not one answer. We were completely ignored.”
Disturbed by the lack of response, Pickup again pleaded for answers during the open house, to which she feels she was met with aggression.

“There was an empty chair in front of me, she came up,” explained Pickup, referring to a consultant representing LIPG, “in public, in front of everybody and slammed down a brown envelope and said, ‘now you have them.’ I was shocked.” ... more.  

Task Force Urged To Repeal Four Land Bills

When he asked oil company reps whether they would supply him with water if his aquifer became contaminated, they dismissed his concerns

By John Gleeson, Jan 16, 2012, Rocky View Weekly  

... Larry Koper called the ERCB “a joke” during his presentation.

“They follow the wishes of the people who pay their salaries and most of their salaries come from the oil companies.”

Koper said a total of eight oil wells were being drilled within a two-mile radius of his property north of Cochrane.
When he asked oil company reps whether they would supply him with water if his aquifer became contaminated, they dismissed his concerns, he said.

“I was told I own the first three feet and below that, the hell with you. But without water I can’t live,” Koper said.

“Nobody’s looking at the impact and no one’s taking responsibility if I lose water from my place, or my so-called place. Oil companies are simply telling me not to worry and from what I’ve read, I’m worried, I really am worried, and that’s the only reason I’ll speak at an open session such as this.” ... more. 


Alberta Energy Regulator Given Immunity In Landmark Fracking Suit

'I have no choice but to appeal', says plaintiff Jessica Ernst, who alleges industry polluted her water.

... 'If I let these rulings stand, companies and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers will push regulators across Canada to do unto others as the ERCB did unto me, when they breached my Charter rights and tried to intimidate me into silence by judging me a criminal without any evidence or trial.'

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Oct. 9, 2013,

... "Ernst said a Cochrane-area family phoned her two days ago with a case of water contamination and livestock poisoning due to fracking for shale oil in the Cardium formation.

Ernst was told that if they publicly complained, industry threatened to no longer deliver water to their home.

'It's another horrendous case,' said Ernst. 

Ernst's lead lawyer Murray Klippenstein said in press release that, "I think Albertans will be disturbed to learn that their energy regulator has total and blanket immunity, even in cases where the regulator has breached the fundamental and constitutional free speech rights of a landowner.'" ... more.

Oil Exploration Increasing in Springbank, Bernum Petroleum Holds Open House 

... no blowouts have ever occurred in the province’s Cardium Zone

Oil Exploration Increasing In Springbank

By Derek Clouthier, October 19, 2011, Cochrane Eagle

Calgary oil and gas company, Bernum Petroleum Ltd., held an open house Oct. 11 in an effort to introduce itself to the community of Springbank and field any questions or concerns residents may have regarding the business’s proposal to launch a drilling initiative for sweet oil in the region.

In the days following the open house, Bernum chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Marshall Abbott highlighted what his company is planning for the area, emphasizing several vital aspects of the fracking operation.

“Our initial activity would include drilling two wells,” he explained. “One is north of the river, just north of the highway (Highway 1). That well is planned to be a horizontal well drilled down to about 8,000 feet into a reservoir that is known. The second well would be just east of the airport . . . considerable distance away from any nearby residence. Those two wells are going to test the concept that we believe there’s a significant amount of oil in the reservoir.”

The two wells Bernum are proposing to drill will be in close proximity to existing wells that were drilled in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s but were not as productive in past decades.

... The area Bernum is tapping into is known as the Cardium Formation and has been a major source for oil and gas production.

“This whole Cardium Play has been one of the marquee plays in Alberta for about the last 18 months. The Cardium Zone has been a prolific oil producer for over 50 years.”

When it came to safety concerns for both the Springbank region and environment, Abbott pointed to the fact that no blowouts have ever occurred in the province’s Cardium Zone and that the type of oil being extracted poses little to no danger. ... more.


Frack Communication Blowout Occurs in Province's Cardium Zone

'... something allowed the frack to carry into the same zone, 130 to 140 metres away (underground).'

Alberta Fracking May Have Led To Innisfail Oil Spill

By Lynn Herrmann, January 18, 2012, Digital Journal

Hydraulic fracturing’s impact on the environment received another mark this week when an oil well blowout occurred on a farm located about a kilometer away from a fracking well in Alberta, Canada.

Canada’s Energy Resource Conservation Board was alerted late last Friday about an oil spill in a field, about 25 kilometers west of Innisfail, after a neighboring landowner spotted a pumpjack gushing oil and chemicals onto the ground.

Workers stand in secret frack fluids after a frack communication blowout, Innisfail, Alberta. Photo - Alberta Surface Rights Group


Regulators believe a fracking well located about a kilometer away caused the pumpjack to rupture.

... “We're still not quite sure what happened,” said Scott Ratushny, chief executive for Midway Energy, according to the Herald. “We're still investigating it, but something allowed the frack to carry into the same zone, 130 to 140 metres away (underground).”

Calgary-based Midway Energy, working through Canyon Technical Services, had been finishing a 16-stage frack job at a depth of 1,400 meters when the blowout occurred. Oil, fracking fluid, nitrogen and sand were reportedly involved in the spill.

The spill took place as a result of oil producers working the Cardium oil formation ...

... The accelerated pace of multi-stage fracking in the Alberta area is beginning to draw attention to itself and may impact underground water resources. “We're concerned that these things are going to start damaging aquifers,” said Don Bester, president of the Alberta Surface Rights Group, the Herald notes.

“If they can hit another well, like this one here, what if they communicate and put all that frac fluid into an aquifer and destroy it.” ... more.




Are Alberta cows doing well site inspections now?
Probably a good thing they're working in pairs until the regulator shows up. It's a dangerous job.

Crossfield Steer Killed By Sour Gas Release

By Dan Healing, Calgary Herald, August 16, 2013
CALGARY — A wandering Texas longhorn steer who broke through a fence and rubbed up against the wrong piece of pipe has been killed by exposure to poisonous hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas.
The incident was reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator on Aug. 5 and posted on its website.
“A cow entered the pipeline riser enclosure and damaged a piece of aboveground piping,” says the report. “A small amount of sour gas was released and the animal was overcome by the H2S and died as a result.”
The sour gas well seven kilometres north of Crossfield is operated by Taqa North Ltd., the Calgary-headquartered oil and gas company owned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.
“We did have a livestock incident,” confirmed Taqa spokesman Leroy McKinnon on Friday. “It breached the fenced area and went in and was actually rubbing up against the injection tubing so it actually broke through, which caused the release.” ... more.



October 19, 2011 The Cochrane Eagle

'We understand the residents' concerns ... about the unsightliness of a pump jack and the possible precedent it sets for an industrial pathway. The last thing we want to do is litter the landscape with oil and gas activity ... that's not our intent.'

Transforming the countryside. Carpet bombing the Lochend, north of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park - Rocky View County Alberta, Oct. 2013

All that drilling waste has to go somewhere. Drilling waste spread on a food field in the Lochend - Rocky View County, Alberta, Oct. 2013


"An industrial pathway." Littering the Lochend with wells, roads and power lines. Rocky View County, Alberta

Upgrading the power lines and more power poles and lines to accommodate pumpjacks in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta

Another "industrial pathway" in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta


And then there's the pipelines and gathering lines ... . Rocky View County, Alberta


Another "industrial pathway." Rocky View County, Alberta


Sometimes it rains on "industrial pathways." Rocky View County, Alberta


Can't see the forest for the pipeline. Rocky View County, Alberta


'... I think I can safely say the ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board) has been quoted as saying that there's never been an incident of a well being fracked in Alberta where it impacted water wells ... or otherwise caused any surface disturbance.' ... more.

 Marshall Abbott, CEO Bernum Petroleum 


Company Fracks And Contaminates Freshwater Aquifer Near Grande Prairie, Regulator Sits On It For Over A Year Before Going Public - All The While Publicly Stating There Has Never Been A Case Of Groundwater Contamination From Fracking

By Various Sources, December 21, 2012

On Sept. 22, 2011, workers from Crew Energy and service company GasFrac Energy Services attempted to frack a well in a liquids-rich gas reservoir near Grande Prairie in northern Alberta but what happened could be described as a comedy of errors. Except – with the heightened awareness of the environmental concerns with fracking – nobody is laughing. Workers on the well site failed to heed a number of warning signs and inadvertently perforated the well at about 137 metres below surface and delivered high-pressured shots of water, sand and toxic chemicals into the water table rather than the intended gas reservoir more than a kilometre further underground.

... Neither the ERCB nor Alberta Environment intends to fine Crew or GasFrac.

... ERCB released an investigation report that cites inadequate management of risks as one of the main causes of a September 2011 accident that contaminated groundwater with toxic hydraulic fracturing chemicals, including the cancer causing agent known as BTEX (benzene, toulene, ethylbenzene, and xylene). ... more.


LIPG Member Company TriOil Resources, Experiments With Propane Fracks In The Lochend 

Newswire, September 19, 2011

TOL successfully executed its first liquid propane gas ("LPG") fracture stimulation in one of our existing cased vertical wells at Lochend. ... Early production rates are encouraging and we are in the planning stages for a second LPG fracture stimulation in another one of our 30 vertical wellbores. ... more.


"Propane butane gas fracs may appease opposition to hydraulic fracturing but only if the dangers are kept from the public" ... more.


Huge Polish Refiner Bids $184M For TriOil

Calgary junior the second this month subject to foreign takeover

By Dan Healing, September 16, 2013

CALGARY — A Polish refiner is the mystery suitor for Calgary-based TriOil Resources Ltd., the second oil and gas junior this month to agree to be sold to an “unlikely” state-controlled foreign company.

On Monday, TriOil announced it had struck a deal to be acquired for $184 million by Orlen Upstream, a subsidiary of PKN Orlen S.A., the largest petroleum and petrochemical corporation in Poland.

The deal is the first step into North America by Orlen and has similarities with the $223-million agreement by Calgary junior Novus Energy Inc. two weeks ago to be purchased by Chinese state-owned Yanchang Petroleum International Ltd., also its first North American venture.

Both companies have substantial stakes in prolific unconventional oil plays — the Cardium for TriOil and the Saskatchewan Viking for Novus — and both deals resulted from the companies putting themselves up for sale last winter. ... more.


October 19, 2011 The Cochrane Eagle

“From what we know,” added Pickup “there has been no study on the cumulative effects of these oil wells being placed so close together.”

... Pickup described the area near Big Hill Springs Provincial Park as just the beginning of what’s coming. “It is ugly.”

Highway 567 and 34 is what Pickup calls ‘frack ally.’ “They’re putting up rigs beside houses; they’re putting in a six multi-well pad. We are so saturated it’s absolutely frightening.

“With the federal government now saying that they are going to study hydraulic fracturing…they know what’s happening throughout the rest of the world. Put a moratorium on it now.” ... more.

Lochend Drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Multi-well pads near homes in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta

After a frack job near homes in the Lochend. The blurry bit in the middle of the photo is the burning off of waste gases and chemicals. Rocky View County, Alberta


Fracked wells near homes in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta.


Drilling near homes in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta.


Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Lochend drilling near homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

Carving out the hills. Drilling across from Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Rocky View County, Alberta

Drilling rig overlooking Big Hill Springs Provincial Park and a home. Rocky View County, Alberta

Why bother pounding in a little stake for that rig sign, when you can use a stop sign. Across from Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Rocky View County, Alberta.

Drilling rig near homes in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta.

An oil company posts a sign for their drivers in the Lochend and a resident responds. - "Yes, please go slow past our homes with all your secret chemicals, toxic wastes, explosive and radioactive materials. Rocky View Fire Fighter jobs have been decimated and response times are expected to be longer. Thank you."

After a frack job in Bearspaw, a service rig towers behind homes. Rocky View County, Alberta

A service rig and tanks fill a multi-well pad near a home, after a frack job in Bearspaw. Rocky View County, Alberta

Fracked wells on a multi-well pad on Twp Road 262, east of Bearspaw Road in Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta

Drilling near homes off Horse Creek Road and Twp. Road 274 - Rocky View County, Alberta

Service rig on a well pad after a frack job near homes between Camden Lane and the Town of Cochrane, Alberta

Two 'flare shields' stand on the well pad after a frack job near homes between Camden Lane and Cochrane, Alberta

Flow-back tanks stand on a well pad after a frack job near homes and the Town of Cochrane's new residential development of Sunset Ridge.



Oil Executive Unable To Dodge Own Industry "Bullets": 

Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, his wife and neighbours - launch lawsuit citing “unreasonable discomfort,” “annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities,” “fear,” “apprehension,” “offence,” “loss of peace of mind,” “emotional harm,” etc.

Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns

By Daniel Gilbert, Feb. 20, 2014, The Wall Street Journal

Residents of Dallas Suburb Fight Construction of Tower That Would Provide Water for Drilling

BARTONVILLE, Texas—One evening last November, a tall, white-haired man turned up at a Town Council meeting to protest construction of a water tower near his home in this wealthy community outside Dallas.

The man was Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.

He and his neighbors had filed suit to block the tower, saying it is illegal and would create "a noise nuisance and traffic hazards," in part because it would provide water for use in hydraulic fracturing.
... In the wake of the election, Mr. Tillerson was among those who lined up in a windowless hall to address the council.
He told officials that he and his wife settled in Bartonville to enjoy a rural lifestyle and invested millions in their property after satisfying themselves that nothing would be built above their tree line, according to the council's audio recording of the meeting.

Allowing the tower in defiance of town ordinances could open the door to runaway development and might prompt him to leave town, Mr. Tillerson told the council.

"I cannot stay in a place," he said, "where I do not know who to count on and who not to count on." 

As stated in the lawsuit:

This monstrosity will mock the purpose of the Bartonville zoning ordinance, the primary purpose of which is to protect the citizens and their property from uses "detrimental to or endanger[ing] the public health, safety, morals, comfort, or general welfare;" from 'uses which substantially impair and diminish the uses, values, and enjoyment of other property in the neighborhood for purposes already permitted"
 ... Plaintiffs have and will continue to be damaged and injured by Defendants’ conduct unless Defendants are restrained and enjoined, and they have no legal remedy sufficient to protect their interests because even though the damages might compensate them for their diminished property values, damages cannot compensate fully for the substantial interference with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their land by causing unreasonable discomfort and annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities, and damages cannot fully compensate plaintiffs for the emotional harm they have sustained from the deprivation of the enjoyment of their property because of fear, apprehension, offence, loss of peace of mind, visual blight or other similar acts or circumstances.

… The construction of the water tower will create a constant and unbearable nuisance to those that live next to it.
A water tower will have lights on at all hours of the night, traffic to and from the tower at unknown and unreasonable hours, noise from mechanical and electrical equipment needed to maintain and operate the water tower, and creates and unsafe and attractive nuisance to the children of the area.

Furthermore, water towers can create an attractive nesting spot for invasive species of bird and other animals.

These animals will befoul Plaintiffs properties if the water tower is left to stand.

Further, upon information and belief, BWSC will lease or sell rights to third parties for the location of antennas and cell towers.

Furthermore, upon information and belief, BWSC will sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards. ... more.



This is not a water tower, it's a drilling rig in the Lochend area of Rocky View County, Alberta. The lights to the right of this drill site is a frack job being performed at another site nearby. 2014


Nope, not a water tower. Drilling the Lochend Area at night. 2014


Lochend area. Rocky View County, Alberta


Lochend area. Rocky View County, Alberta


Lochend area. Rocky View County, Alberta


Bearspaw Area. Rocky View County, Alberta



Highway 567 to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park - Rocky View County, Alberta - Before the frack invasion.


After - The fracking footprints are immense  


Bernum to Frack One of "Canada's Richest Postal Codes"

The company recently made a financial contribution to the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

By Derek Clouthier, September 12, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

Canada's 10 Richest Postal Codes - Source: Canadian Business.comTwo new drilling sites have been approved in north Springbank, tapping into the area’s popular Cardium zone formation.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) granted the licences to the Calgary company Bernum Petroleum, who will be the operator for the two new wells.
Birch Lake Energy, also a Calgary company, is a significant partner as well.
'Bernum will drill its first well in north Springbank in the fall of 2012,' Bernum CEO and chairman Marshall Abbott indicated in an email, “and anticipates drilling and completion to be finalized before the end of the year.”
Addressing persistent concerns some area residents have had over the issue of hydraulic fracturing, ‘fracking,’ Marshall said his company has made several attempts to ensure people receive accurate information about the process of oil and gas extraction.
Marshall pointed to an open house the company held in Springbank just over a year ago as an example of how Bernum has made efforts to educate residents on new technology and Bernum’s proposed activities.
To protect ground-water resources – perhaps the most litigious issue surrounding fracking – Bernum uses a protective casing for their wellbore, which consists of a high-strength steel pipe cemented into place, to prevent any oil, gas or frack-fluid flowback from finding its way into the water table.
Marshall said Bernum has drilled and completed over 200 wells using hydraulic fracturing in their experience, and that within the north Lochend area, approximately 60 have been drilled to date.
'According to the ERCB,' Marshall stated, 'over 171,000 wells have been drilled in Alberta with no documented cases of water contamination in relation to hydraulic fracturing.'
Cochrane, north Springbank and Roxana are the three primary areas of operation for Bernum. ... more.

Birch Lake Energy , Bernum Petroleum and a Petrobakken Cochrane well featuring a 2 mile horizontal.

"The 2-mile horizontal well licensed at 4-11-26-4 W5 may lead a new technological improvement."


Please Be Patient While They Try To Figure Out The “Kinks” ... And Have A Go At Each Other

Birch Lake announces claim commenced by Bernum Petroleum

Scandinavian Oil.Gas Magazine, March 28, 2013

Birch Lake Energy Inc. says that Bernum Petroleum Ltd. has filed a statement of claim against Birch Lake regarding the Company's Lochend Assets, being the non-operated working interest of 40% in certain petroleum and natural gas rights underlying 7,760 gross acres (2,718 net) in the Lochend-Bearspaw area of Alberta. ... 

... The Company has taken immediate steps to vigorously defend this claim and preserve its rights in the joint venture assets including a detailed review of the completion operations on the initial well which led to the apparent collapse of the production casing string during the frac operation and the resulting loss of more than half the productive well bore.

The Corporation is also conducting a detailed review of the drilling operations of the second well during which intermediate casing was not able to be successfully run to depth drilled, resulting in drilling difficulties during the horizontal section and the eventual loss of the horizontal section after nearly reaching total depth. ... more.


... Several residents want to know where these companies get the millions of gallons of water they use for their ‘fracking’ activities.

By Derek Clouthier, August 1, 2012, The Cochrane Eagle
The average human being can survive without water for approximately three days under normal conditions, which is why it’s understandable that many want to ensure that our H2O supply is not only safe but plentiful.
Water for sale sign as seen in a field from Hwy 22 North of Cochrane, Alberta - *We have blocked out last digits of phone number and plate number, as sign has now been removed or moved.With a slew of oil and gas companies operating in the Cochrane area, many just to the north of town in what is called the Cardium formation – which is believed to have approximately 84 million cubic metres of untapped oil along with 58 million cubic metres of remaining gas – several residents want to know where these companies get the millions of gallons of water they use for their ‘fracking’ activities.
Cochrane Lake and Dogpound Creek are two approved sources of water for energy companies working in the area to remove from.
These two bodies of water, according to public affairs officer for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (the governing body tasked with reviewing applications for water extraction purposes) Carrie Sancartier, are experiencing ‘a lot of activity.’
“There are five companies that have temporary diversion licences for hydraulic fracturing purposes in 2012,” said Sancartier. “All temporary licences will expire before the end of September.”
Sancartier said that each company holding a permit to extract water from Cochrane Lake and/or Dogpound Creek is authorized to take anywhere from 3,500-10,000 cubic metres of water during the term of their licence, and that permits can be issued for temporary diversions for a maximum of one year, or for a longer period of time depending on the project type.
... The other source of water for energy companies conducting fracking operations is Cochrane’s bulk water station.
... Though amounts can vary, the approximate quantity of water necessary to frack a bore well is anywhere from 4,542-13,250 cubic metres of potable water.
The reason companies say they require clean, potable water as the base for the fluid they use to fracture the rock is because non-potable water does not react with several of the additives they add to the water; additives such as gelling agents, acetic acid, silica sand and carbon dioxide.

Five companies with fracking operations in the Cochrane area form the Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG), and consist of Equal Energy, NAL Resources, PetroBakken Energy, Tamarack Valley Energy and TriOil Resources. ... more.


A Lochend Long-Reach Horizontal - Featuring 40 Fracks

By LIPG Member TriOil Resources Ltd., October 9, 2012
TriOil successfully participated in the drilling of the first long-reach horizontal oil well (over 2,800 meters open in the Cardium "A") in the Lochend region (TOL 50%) and completed the well with a 40 stage hybrid frac during the third quarter.

... We are encouraged by the early results of this well and plan to drill 2 additional long-reach horizontal wells in the first half of 2013. ... more.


Cochrane Reviews Environmental and Social Policies on Water Use for Hydraulic Fracturing 

McBride said the amount of water used by the fracking operation is actually quite small

A "small" tank used to hold fresh water before it is permanently contaminated with toxic chemicals (some remain secret) and used to frack wells. A frack job in the Lochend, Rocky View County, Alberta.
By Colette Derworiz, August 16, 2012, Calgary Herald
Cochrane is reviewing the environmental and social policies around its bulk water supply after concerns were raised about it being used for fracking operations near the town.

Earlier this month, residents raised concerns about water being sold off to oil and gas companies for hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which uses water to free trapped gas and oil from underground rock. Some suggest that the use of fracking could contaminate water.

Mayor Truper McBride said the town’s water licence allows it to sell it in bulk for industry use such agriculture or oil and gas.

'The landscape around Cochrane is changing quite quickly,' he said, noting there’s some angst attached to the amount of fracking that is taking place in the area.

Those concerns are growing across Alberta by environmentalists and landowners alike.

'It just shows water is for sale in the province,' said Don Bester, of the Alberta Surface Rights Group, noting oil and gas companies are offering big money to municipalities for water. 'It’s a big concern.'

Alberta’s Water Act allows for the sale of water by a municipality provided it stays within the amount allocated under its licence.

McBride said the amount of water used by the fracking operation is actually quite small, but noted there’s enough concern that the town will review its social and environmental policies around water.

'It’s going to be looking at best practices around Alberta and the United States, because fracking is so new here,' he said, noting the rate for someone buying bulk water from the town is currently the same for residential and industrial usage.

It’s expected the review would report back in time for the town’s budget discussions in November. 'There’s nothing hasty going to be done,' said McBride, noting they won’t change any agreements before then. 'We want to take a holistic approach to it.' ... more.

Sources of Water for Fracking Troubles Some in Community

Present policy states that water is to be reused whenever possible. Water for the purposes of ‘frack’ fluid, however, is not reused due to the various chemicals that are added to the fluid.

Another "small" tank used to store fresh water for a frack job. Multi-fracked-well pad in Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta.
By Derek Clouthier, August 8, 2012, Cochrane Eagle
The reason behind McBride’s trepidation is because Cochrane’s present policy states that water is a precious resource, one that is supposed to be treated in a responsible and sustainable manner, and that the town is obligated to act as good stewards of the watershed.

McBride, however, now feels that the sale of Cochrane’s potable, bulk water supply does not adhere to this pledge of sustainability.

'Arguably, we should be expecting those we sell our treated municipal water to be meeting or exceeding the policy objectives that council and the region have laid out for us,' said McBride, adding that there is a regional policy in place recognizing water as a scarcity in the Cochrane area, which compels the town to utilize the resource principally for urban and municipal purposes.

'There should not be a double standard in place with our residents being told to preserve,' the mayor contended, 'but then turning around and selling unrecoverable water to certain industries in bulk form.'

Present policy states that water is to be reused whenever possible. Water for the purposes of ‘frack’ fluid, however, is not reused due to the various chemicals that are added to the fluid. ... more.

Cochrane's Bulk Water Supply ‘Secondary’ Source for LIPG

The LIPG did not have an exact amount of water they have purchased from the town during the past year

Still more "small" tanks to hold the fresh water for a frack job that's taking place on a multi-well pad near Cochrane's new residential development of Sunset Ridge. October 2013.
By Derek, August 22, 2012, Cochrane Eagle
The Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG) want to ensure Cochrane and area residents that the use of the town’s bulk water supply is simply an alternative source of water for hydraulic fracturing operations.

… LIPG members — made up of six oil and gas companies: Equal Energy, NAL Resources, Pengrowth Energy, Petrobakken Energy, Tamarack Valley Energy and TriOil Resources — collaborated via email, indicated that they “welcome opportunities to work with the Town of Cochrane and Rocky View County….”

... The LIPG also wanted to clarify that they are in fact able to use ‘untreated’ water from natural resources and that what is referred to as ‘potable’ water means that it meets government standards as treated or drinking water. The most ideal water for ‘frack’ fluid is naturally occurring, untreated, fresh water.

Water that is extracted from natural sources is transported to LIPG site, where it is filtered to remove any solids and is then stored.

Samples of the water are tested to ensure it can be used for frack fluid. If necessary, a conditioning additive (usually a bacteria inhibitor) is added to the fluid during the fracturing process.

Responding to whether they prefer pre-filtered water to avoid filtering costs, the LIPG said the cost to filter natural water is ‘negligible’ and does not factor into their decision on how or where to acquire water.

LIPG member companies do presently possess a temporary water diversion permit for several natural water sources in the Cochrane area, including Cochrane Lake, Dogpound Creek, Church Ranches Estate, area dugouts and road ditches and gravel pits.

To alleviate resident concern over truck traffic, the LIPG said they always work to ensure that water is sourced from the closest approved location to any given frack site.

The LIPG also affirmed that they do not disperse used frack fluid into any municipal treatment facility, including the City of Calgary’s sewage pipeline, but rather transport the ‘flowback’ to an Energy Resources Conservation Board approved waste-water disposal site.

Flowback water can be reused up to four times, according to the LIPG, or until the chemistry is no longer suitable for their operations.

... The LIPG did not have an exact amount of water they have purchased from the town during the past year. ...more.


Town Should Take Steps to Fix Water Management Policy

'We are out of balance and our priorities, policies and practices for water management and use are unsustainable'

By Judy Stewart, August 8, 2012, Cochrane Eagle
Pathway 2 of the Cochrane Sustainability Plan states: 'We treat water as a precious resource.'
… Our regional water management system is out of balance in epic proportions with respect to promoting the economic interests of a few entrepreneurs and their shareholders in the oil and gas industry over the social and environmental interests of people and non-human nature in the Cochrane area.
Cochrane’s water allocation licence clearly stipulates that water diverted from the Bow River under the conditions of our relatively small license is to be used for 'municipal purposes' or for urban water supply. Fracking is not a recognized 'municipal purpose' or an urban water supply by any stretch of the most imaginative among us, and certainly when Cochrane’s licence was issued many years ago, fracking was not a municipal purpose or use contemplated.
If the report is accurate, then the town should apply for an amendment to its licence to allow for this new use of water, and given the moratorium on surface water licensing, why would such an amendment be approved by the province?
… Our water allocation licence also requires that certain quantities of 'return flows' be returned to the Bow River system, and Cochrane does eventually return much of the water it diverts through its sewage pipeline to Calgary. If water we divert under the conditions of our licence is trucked to hydraulic fracturing oil and gas well sites, and pumped deep into the ground to force oil and gas to rise to the surface, then the town is not meeting its return flow requirements. In fact, the town would then become a consumptive user of water of a considerable percentage of our licensed allocation, instead of a user that essentially returns most of what it diverts, albeit far downstream. This becomes an issue of risk to the health of the regional aquatic ecosystem.
… Does the province care given all their fine talk of cumulative effects management and regional land use planning and management?
If the town is allowing bulk water sales to the oil and gas industry for use in fracking operations, it appears that the town is not really treating water as a precious resource at all. Water is being treated as a sub-tractable input to oil and gas production because once used by this industry it is lost to the water cycle and not available to anyone else in the future, and this industry is being deemed more important than the collective interests of all other industry, business, people and the non-human world. ... more.

Dogpound Creek, Premier Trout Stream Loses Water To Fracking

What was really surprising, was that 37,000 cubic metres [37,000,000 litres] was allotted for the months of February and March, when the trout eggs from the previous spawning season were still incubating in the spawning habitats along the creek

Stream Tender - Posted on November 3, 2012 By Guy Woods
Dogpound Creek is a well known trout fishery in the central part of the province of Alberta. This small stream is a tributary to the Red Deer River and it is home water to a thriving population of brown trout, and brook trout in the upper reaches.
Over the years, major restoration work has brought this fine trout stream back from the brink. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to fence the stream and landowners along its course have been encouraged to create off-channel watering sites for cattle. All of this work has been completed to restore the riparian habitat along the creek and improve the water quality that will benefit not only trout survival, but also water users downstream on the system!

In the late summer of 2012, while reading an article in the local newspaper, I was shocked to learn that Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development had issued a total of 8 Temporary Diversion Licences to three energy companies, to withdraw a total of 69,000 cubic metres of water from the Dogpound Creek, during the year of 2012.

    The water withdrawl permits were issued on the following dates:
  1. Feb 13, 2012 – 8,000 cubic metres
  2. Mar 26, 2012 – 8,000 cubic metres
  3. Mar 26, 2012 – 3,500 cubic metres
  4. Mar 26, 2012 – 10,500 cubic metres
  5. Mar 26, 2012 – 7,000 cubic metres
  6. June 11, 2012 – 6,500 cubic metres
  7. July 18, 2012 – 3,500 cubic metres
  8. July 26, 2012 – 15,000 cubic metres
  9. Aug 1, 2012 – 7,000 cubic metres
What was really surprizing, was that 37,000 cubic metres was allotted for the months of Feburary and March, when the trout eggs from the previous spawning season were still incubating in the spawning habitats along the creek! Both of these months are when the water levels of the stream are at their lowest point of the entire year, yet SRD still issued the licences to the energy companies!

It seems ironic to me that one branch of the provincial government, SRD Fish & Wildlife, has taken extreme measures to protect the fishery of Dogpound Creek, while the other branch, SRD Water Resources, has issued water pumping permits that will have a negative impact on the habitat in the stream. Water provides habitat for trout, it is the environment in which they live their lives, so we must consider any loss of water in the Dogpound Creek, as the loss of fish habitat.

Fish habitat and the protection of it, is the responcibility of of the federal government’s Department of Fishes and Oceans, they are charged with protecting trout streams from any loss of habitat, under the federal fisheries act (Section 24). If there is any loss to fisheries habitat, those responcible must compensate for the loss. If there is any compensation for this water removal on Dogpound Creek, I am unaware of it!

For those that don’t know what happens to that water that was been removed from the Dogpound Creek this year; I can tell you that it was poisened with chemicals and pumped underground, for the extraction of hydro-carbons. It’s a hell of a use for clean water that has been stolen from a healthy trout stream! ... go to Stream Tender.


Bow River Becomes A Lifeline For Frackers

Companies taking water from the Bow River for drilling and fracking 

Bernum Petroleum issued licences for 9.5 million litres.  Goinggoing ... gone.

A 2.5 million litre Bonavista licence ... poof.

Bow River ... Red Deer River ... who's keeping track? Companies taking water from the Red Deer River for a frack job.


'Excess' Stormwater to be Pumped Out, Laced with Secret Chemicals, and Injected into Rocky View County's Future

'It's a win-win situation'

By: Rachel Maclean - August 2, 2011, Cochrane Eagle
Areas in Rocky View drowning in excess stormwater will soon get some help from one company drilling for oil in the area.
Rocky View County has received Alberta Environment approval to let NAL Resources pump 18,330 cubic metres of excess stormwater to be used in oil production.

The idea came from county Coun. Paul McLean.

'It’s a win-win situation,' he said.

... NAL spokesperson Lance Berg said the water will be used to help drill three wells and frack five wells in the Lochend area.
Berg said roughly 1,500-2,000 cubic metres of water will be used for each frack and 800 cubic metres for each drill.

Berg has been in meetings with other oil companies to see if the idea can be expanded and credits Mclean for his work.  

NAL has been using locally sourced water since its operations started up in 2009, including water from Cochrane’s water treatment plant. ... more.


New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

Both scientists agreed that direct evidence of fluid migration is needed, but little sampling has been done to analyze where fracking fluids go after being injected underground.

By Abrahm Lustgarten, May 1, 2012, ProPublica
Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.
But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”
“Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an independent hydrogeologist whose clients include [2] the federal government and environmental groups.
“The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability,” he said. “Fluids could move from most any injection process.”
… The models predict that fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids traveled distances within 100 years that would take tens of thousands of years under natural conditions. And when the models factored in the Marcellus’ natural faults and fractures, fluids could move 10 times as fast as that.
Where man-made fractures intersect with natural faults, or break out of the Marcellus layer into the stone layer above it, the study found, “contaminants could reach the surface areas in tens of years, or less.”
The study also concluded that the force that fracking exerts does not immediately let up when the process ends. It can take nearly a year to ease.
As a result, chemicals left underground are still being pushed away from the drill site long after drilling is finished. It can take five or six years before the natural balance of pressure in the underground system is fully restored, the study found.

Myers’ research focused exclusively on the Marcellus, but he said his findings may have broader relevance. Many regions where oil and gas is being drilled have more permeable underground environments than the one he analyzed, he said. ... more. 


Reader Questions Hutchinson Drilling

What has our province come to?

By Carolin Koebisch, February 28, 2012, The Cochrane Eagle
Multi-well pad lined with flow-back tanks north of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Rocky View County, Alberta
I am appalled by the idea that the Nature Conservancy of Canada has allowed the recent drilling activity on the donated Hutchinson lands just north of Big Hill Springs Park.
I guess in Alberta oil drilling/fracking must qualify as “ranching use”.
Besides the obvious land disturbance, the noise level of the drilling is to be heard from a few kilometres away until about 2 a.m. each morning.
So I guess I don’t have to wonder if any deer, or moose, will still be found on these lands from now on . . . perhaps the most meaningful part of Hutchinson’s Nature Conservancy now will be the fact that no more moose/deer will be killed crossing that particular stretch of highway.
Hence forward it will be “human fatalities only” when cars/trucks will come flying over the hill, just to find themselves having to brake last minute for the tractor trailers approaching the road turn off.
What has our province come to?

Cochranite Reminisces of Years Gone By

'I have a passion for planting trees. I planted 600 trees at the Oxyoke Ranch'

By Karla Reinhard, Cochrane Eagle, June 13, 2012
Jo had known Jonathan Hutchinson all her life. They were married in 1967 and settled in at the Oxyoke Ranch located on highway 567 northeast of Cochrane. Jonathan’s father, Walter Hutchinson, had purchased the land and the brand in 1906 and convinced his fiancée, Lena, to make the long trip to Cochrane from New Zealand to marry him in 1907. The Oxyoke Ranch flourished and grew to 16 sections after Walter had purchased it from Robert and Ella Cowan.

Jon was the youngest in his family. After his two older brothers and sister were married and established their own ranches on their share of the property, he and Jo ran the home place, caring for his aging parents. They raised pulled Herefords; Jo enjoyed working in her huge garden, planting 400 bedding plants in her greenhouse, baking, cooking, sewing and knitting.

“I have a passion for planting trees. I planted 600 trees at the Oxyoke Ranch” she said proudly.
... In the 1990s, with the increasing encroachment of acreage developments and the shrinking profitability of agriculture, Jon and Jo decided to take steps to save the land they both loved. After a long struggle with the government, they were able to place a conservation easement on much of the property with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. This ensures that the land can only be used for pasture and never be broken.

“The Nature Conservancy is a nation-wide organization. Its whole existence is for the preservation of land in its natural state” Jo explained. ... more.


Drilling Letter ‘Misleading’

These protocols provide strategies to reduce impact and avoid sensitive areas and all companies to date have worked with us to implement them. 

By Bob Demulder, Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region, March 13, 2012, The Cochrane Eagle
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has been working in Alberta for more than 40 years. In that time, we have completed more than 200 projects that protect more than 185,000 acres (75,000 hectares) of the province’s most ecologically significant land and water.
An oil company takes water for their operations from the Oxyoke Nature Preserve, Rocky View County Alberta - October, 2012

A recent letter to the Eagle (“Reader questions Hutchinson drilling”), leaves a misleading impression of our work.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada does not own the land referred to in the letter. We work with the landowner by way of a legal agreement to conserve and maintain the conservation values of the land. As a result, NCC is not in a position to either allow or disallow drilling activity on the land.

In Alberta the vast majority of subsurface rights rest with the Crown. The issue of surface conservation values versus subsurface rights represents a unique challenge to all land trusts, including NCC. Under provincial law we are unable to ignore surface access requests. They will eventually be granted without landowner consent by the Surface Rights Board.

Given this, NCC chooses to work proactively to engage resource companies in our planning and conservation activities. To be clear, our preferred option is to redirect any development away from our properties — but that is not always a workable option. In cases where avoidance cannot be achieved, we have developed detailed protocols that encourage resource companies to follow responsible practices when they have the right to access property. These protocols provide strategies to reduce impact and avoid sensitive areas and all companies to date have worked with us to implement them.

Here for the taking - a hose used by the oil companies to remove water from the Oxyoke Nature Preserve remains for the next tanker to hook up. Rocky View County, Alberta


Historic Land Deal Between Alberta Ranchers, Nature Conservancy Seeks To Keep The Wild In Wild Rose Country

There are currently no oil or gas wells, but gas drilling remains a possibility

By Kelly Cryderman, Sept. 11, 2013, The Globe and Mail

Against a cloudless blue sky, the grassy Alberta foothills of the Waldron Ranch seem limitless. A herd of cattle grazes on a distant plain that ranchers say looks the same as it did a century ago, without a single road or building in sight.

To preserve this view for generations to come, a co-operative of 72 ranchers has struck a deal with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect 12,357 hectares of postcard-perfect ranchlands under a conservation easement. The $75-million piece of private property about 175 kilometres southwest of Calgary will be the largest parcel of land in Canada ever covered under a land easement agreement, the deal’s backers say.

... “I’m going to be honest – we don’t really want [the easement], 100 per cent,” rancher Tim Nelson said of giving up some control over the land. “But we want it to preserve the land. . . . We don’t know about the next generation. And we’re worried. What happens in 20, 30, 40, 50 years, and they start developing it?”

... “What makes this place special is it’s such a vast expanse of grass that is pretty much undisturbed,” said Mike Roberts, manager of Waldron, where more than 10,000 cattle graze every year.

... No one is calling the land pristine. The Cowboy Trail intersects the ranch, a power line crosses a small part of it and a natural-gas pipeline runs underground. There are currently no oil or gas wells, but gas drilling remains a possibility – most Alberta landowners do not have the final say on what happens on their property beneath the surface.

However, the huge expanse remains ecologically and historically significant. Wild animals, including bears and cougars, use it as part of their range, and the land represents one of Alberta’s last intact blocks of nutrition-dense rough fescue grass – which cattle, elk and deer need for year-round sustenance. Dozens of teepee rings left by Blackfoot travellers are still in the ground near the Oldman River, and every year during the spring melt, several buffalo skulls are found – remnants of a time when vast herds wintered in the area.

Mr. Simpson said the road from Longview, Alta., a village closer to Calgary, south to the ranch is one of the most beautiful drives in Canada.

“If this was all carved up some day, wouldn’t that be a loss – not just for Alberta, but for the whole country?” ... more.


Nature Conservancy Sells 69,000 Acres in Adirondacks to New York State

Long Island Newsday - An editorial cartoon by Mark Wilson about Andrew Cuomo's policy on fracking in the Adirondacks. Mark Wilson is a New York political cartoonist and illustrator who lives in the Adirondacks. He publishes under the pen name Marquil.By The Associated Press, August 5, 2012, The New York Times

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — New York State is acquiring the biggest chunk of land in the Adirondacks in more than a century.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Sunday the acquisition of 69,000 acres that he said would preserve a significant portion of the upper Hudson River watershed. Mr. Cuomo said the $49.8 million purchase would bolster state tourism, with new destinations for those who love water sports, hiking, hunting and snowmobiling.

He said it would be the first time the land had been open for public use in 150 years.

The land is being sold to the state over a five-year period by the Nature Conservancy, which bought a 161,000-acre timberland property in 2007, managing much of it with the intent to protect the land. ... more.

Dollars, Politics Force Officials to Ignore Alberta Wetlands: Study

Alberta Environment routinely and increasingly disregards its own guidelines on protecting and conserving wetlands

By The Canadian Press, September 30, 2012
If Shari Clare noticed anything during five years as a private-sector environmental consultant in Alberta it was the 'void between what regulations say and what happens on the ground.'
That void became the subject of her thesis, which is soon to be published in the journal Society and Natural Resources. Two years of research at the University of Alberta gave her what she calls a scientifically credible analysis of 'the subtle, hidden power that everyone in Alberta knows about but nobody talks about.'
Alberta Environment routinely and increasingly disregards its own guidelines on protecting and conserving wetlands, she concludes.
She uses 34 lengthy interviews with everyone from executive-level bureaucrats to industry representatives to describe a government culture where well-intentioned rules often come second to politics and dollars.
"You need to have some strength and willingness on the regulator’s side to be able to say ‘no,’ ” she quotes one government employee as saying. “I’m not sure that saying ‘no’ is in the provincial vocabulary.”
Wetland sculpture by LIPG member company, Equal Energy - Rocky View County, Alberta
Wetlands filter runoff, buffer floods and provide highly biodiverse habitat, so developers must get provincial approval before disturbing them. 'Alberta Environment’s priority is to avoid having land development impact wetland area whenever possible,' provincial guidelines say.
… Consideration for not disturbing the wet areas in the first place appeared to be rare. Said one environmental consultant interviewed in the study: 'I skip to (compensation) right away, just because I’ve never encountered somebody saying, ‘No, don’t touch this wetland.”‘
Clare’s paper suggests guidelines are being ignored because it would take too long to find replacement wetlands that fit the bill. 'The lack of compensation sites was identified in interviews as being a major impediment to the ability of applicants to ‘get on with their development,' she writes.
'Many government regulators feel that they are responsible for ensuring reasonableness and fairness for proponents, rather than apply the guidelines as written. By bartering less environmentally demanding wetland compensation requirements, regulators minimize political costs for government and financial costs for proponents.' ... more.

Equal Energy Sells Cardium Assets

One of Equal Energy's multi-well pads in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta
Now taken over by Pengrowth. Rocky View County, Alberta
By,  Nov. 2, 2012 /CNW/
Equal Energy Ltd. ("Equal" or "the Company") (TSX: EQU) (NYSE: EQU) is pleased to announce that it has closed an agreement with another Canadian energy company whereby Equal has sold its Lochend Cardium assets for cash consideration of $62 million, effective October 1st 2012.  The assets sold include current production of approximately 525 boe/d (93% light oil) based on the most recent 30 day average, related infrastructure and undeveloped land. ... more.

The Big Boys Can Sit Back And Rake It In

... The company owns more than three million hectares of "fee lands," on which it holds subsurface rights. In those areas, which were originally granted to the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800s, Encana pays no royalty to the Crown. Instead, it can charge royalties to other companies ...

Encana has agreed to allow other companies to explore some of its lands in exchange for a royalty of anywhere between 30 and 38 per cent.

By Nathan Vanderklippe, Jan. 13, 2011 - Updated Aug. 24, 2012, The Globe and Mail 

Encana Corp. is turning some of its attention back to oil in a sign of how persistently low natural gas prices are reshaping the energy industry. The company, North America's second-largest producer of natural gas, has signed a series of joint venture deals that give it a substantial interest in extracting oil from a series of lucrative new plays sweeping across Western Canada.
... But Encana is also quietly shifting back toward oil as the imbalance between low gas and high oil prices dramatically tilts the business of energy extraction. Across the oil patch, companies are slashing their gas spending and attempting new ways to profit from the gas they have. ... Even with such dramatic change afoot, Encana's new openness toward crude is striking. In recent months, it has signed joint venture deals with a number of companies to explore for oil on more than 465,000 hectares in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"It does give us a lot of oil exposure," Stacy Knull, an Encana vice-president in charge of its southern Alberta operations, said in an interview. "But we're not scared of oil."
The joint ventures are a potentially major source of new revenue. They stem from a unique part of Encana's land holdings. The company owns more than three million hectares of "fee lands," on which it holds subsurface rights. In those areas, which were originally granted to the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800s, Encana pays no royalty to the Crown.
Instead, it can charge royalties to other companies - a strategy it is now pursuing on lands that lie in some of Western Canada's most prominent new oil plays, including the Viking, Cardium and Alberta Bakken. Encana has agreed to allow other companies to explore some of its lands in exchange for a royalty of anywhere between 30 and 38 per cent.

... "They'd have to do a lot of drilling on that many sections to hold it all - and we encourage it because we make good royalties," Mr. Knull said.

Encana also benefits by having someone else shoulder all the risk for finding oil. If it likes what it sees, it can then make a decision to drill for oil itself - an option it is open to, Mr. Knull said. "We're definitely interested to see where this goes." ... more


"Shale oil wells reach peak output almost immediately but quickly decline, so new wells are constantly needed."

He noted that the Bakken-Three Forks region in North Dakota required 90 new wells per month to maintain production of 770,000 barrels per day.

Maugeri Oil Shale Report 2013

... Maugeri said the number of American shale oil wells in North Dakota and Texas could soar from the current 10,000 to more than 100,000 working wells by 2030.

... A key distinction between shale oil production and conventional oil wells is the intensity of drilling required to extract shale oil. Maugeri said this drilling intensity required for shale oil will limit production in densely populated areas, especially in Europe. He noted that the Bakken-Three Forks region in North Dakota required 90 new wells per month to maintain production of 770,000 barrels per day. ... more.


"It's The Last Gasp"

... this incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." 

U.S. Shale-Oil Boom May Not Last as Fracking Wells Lack Staying Power

By Asjylyn Loder, October 10, 2013, Bloomberg Business Week

Chesapeake Energy’s (CHK) Serenity 1-3H well near Oklahoma City came in as a gusher in 2009, pumping more than 1,200 barrels of oil a day and kicking off a rush to drill that extended into Kansas. Now the well produces less than 100 barrels a day, state records show. Serenity’s swift decline sheds light on a dirty secret of the oil boom: It may not last. Shale wells start strong and fade fast, and producers are drilling at a breakneck pace to hold output steady. In the fields, this incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

... Whether current production can hold up is the subject of debate. David Hughes, a geoscientist and president of Global Sustainability Research, has examined the life span of shale wells. “The Red Queen syndrome just gets worse and worse and worse,” he says. “The higher production goes, the more wells you need to offset the decline.”

... In North Dakota’s Bakken shale, a well formally known as Robert Heuer 1-17R put out 2,358 barrels in May 2004, when it went live. The output proved there was money to be made drilling in the Bakken and kicked off an oil rush in North Dakota. Continental Resources (CLR), the well’s operator, built a monument to it. Production declined 69 percent in the first year. “I look at shale as more of a retirement party than a revolution,” says Art Berman, a petroleum geologist who spent 20 years with what was then Amoco and now runs his own firm, Labyrinth Consulting Services, in Sugar Land, Tex. “It’s the last gasp.”

... Global Sustainability’s Hughes estimates the U.S. needs to drill 6,000 new wells per year at a cost of $35 billion to maintain current production. His research also shows that the newest wells aren’t as productive as those drilled in the first years of the boom, a sign that oil companies have already tapped the best spots, making it that much harder to keep breaking records. 

... The cost of drilling a horizontal shale well ranges from $3.5 million in the Mississippi lime to $9 million or more in the Bakken. That’s far more than the cost of a similar vertical well, which goes from $400,000 to $600,000, according to Drillinginfo.

In September, Steve Slawson, vice president for Slawson Exploration, sat in a trailer about 35 miles north of Oklahoma City, watching monitors as his crew shattered the Mississippi lime thousands of feet below. The well, known as Begonia 1-30H, will cost about $3.7 million.

One-third of that is the cost of fracking: First, thin pipes loaded with explosives are threaded into the hole to blast the ancient reef. Then, at a cost of about $80,000, the Begonia will consume 50,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid to dissolve the limestone; another $68,000 will pay for 1,000 gallons of antibacterial solution to kill microorganisms that chew up the pipes; $110,000 goes for a soapy surfactant to reduce friction; $10,000 covers a scale inhibitor to prevent lime buildup; and $230,000 purchases 2 million pounds of sand to prop the fractures open so the oil and gas can flow into the well.

Then there’s $300,000 in pumping charges, plus the cost of equipment rental, pipe, and water, which brings the price tag for fracking the well to $1.2 million.

A host of other things, from cement to Porta Potty rentals, accounts for the rest of the cost.

... Companies that borrow heavily to pay for drilling will be hit especially hard if prices decline. Since natural gas prices started falling, Chesapeake has been forced to sell off assets to pay for drilling. It’s also started cutting jobs. Chesapeake would not comment for this story. ... more.


In Cochrane, Area Landowners Have Reported Broken Windows and Cracked Foundations After Extensive Fracking Operations for Shale Oil

'We [ERCB] don't have any correlation between hydraulic fracturing and clusters of earthquakes you can feel.'

By Andrew Nikiforuk, 23 Feb 2012,

... Hill said that there had been reports of earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing near Cochrane, Alberta but no definitive correlation.

"We don't have any correlation between hydraulic fracturing and clusters of earthquakes you can feel." In Cochrane, area landowners have reported broken windows and cracked foundations after extensive fracking operations for shale oil.

Hill said there are approximately 100 fluid injection wells that pump fracking waste water from oil and gas site two miles into the earth. These facilities have been associated with strong earthquake activity in British Columbia, Ohio, Arkansas and Texas. But not in Alberta, said Hill.

... Despite a major increase in horizontal multi-stage fracking in oil shale formations (some 3,300 wells since 2008), the province has not allotted more money for earthquake, groundwater, gas migration or wellbore integrity monitoring. (The Alberta Geological Survey recently beefed up seismic monitoring after dozens of earthquakes a decade in the province turned into hundreds after 1985.)

"Nothing specific" has been set aside for additional monitoring admitted Hill. ... more.


CAPP Trots Out Voluntary Guidelines For Members Following Media Coverage Of 272 B.C. Fracking Earthquakes In A 2 Year Span and Numerous Fracking Earthquake Complaints From Cochrane Area Landowners Since 2011 

Alberta's Energy Minister Ken Hughes isn't too concerned the guidelines were written by industry.

"While they've developed guidelines, clearly the Energy Resources Conservation Board is the ultimate authority and the new energy regulator will be looking at this”

Cochrane Resident Worries New Fracking Guidelines Too Weak

CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2012

A Calgary-area rancher says Canada's oil and gas producers' new guidelines for hydraulic fracking don't go far enough.

The rules — which are voluntary — are supposed to address the risk of earthquakes.

On his ranch near Cochrane, Howard Hawkwood said he’s experienced many tremors on his property.

Hawkwood said they started after oil and gas companies started fracking not far from his property.

"I was in my horse barn, all of a sudden the horse barn started to tremble, I had a horse in there and he spooked," said Hawkwood.

This week, the industry unveiled voluntary guidelines for fracking and earthquakes. They call for procedures to be in place to monitor and mitigate seismic activity.

Alberta's Energy Minister Ken Hughes isn't too concerned the guidelines were written by industry.

"While they've developed guidelines, clearly the Energy Resources Conservation Board is the ultimate authority and the new energy regulator will be looking at this,” said Hughes.

For his part, Hawkwood says he’s disappointed.

"I'm really worried because they're going to write their own rules and that's it, they will just absolutely ignore the rest of us, they don't care, they're just after the almighty dollar,” he says.

Hawkwood expects the tremors will continue.

He's been told the number of wells in the area is set to triple to 150.




LIPG Strives to put Fracking Concerns to Bed

'There’s a lot of fear and hysteria that’s been created to a certain extent for really no reason'

By Derek Clouthier, February 29, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

... During a time that has seen a surge of drilling activity in the region, it is understandable that local residents could feel some apprehension and confusion toward the ever-increasing presence of oil and gas companies rolling into their backyards.

The majority of the incoming companies make up the Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG), which consists of five energy businesses; Equal Energy, NAL Resources, PetroBakken Energy, Tamarack Valley Energy and TriOil Resources.

On Feb. 24, four representatives from the LIPG and its affiliated companies made themselves available to address several concerns floating around in the public with regards to hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as ‘fracking.’

One of the main areas of distress stems from a fear that fresh water supplies are being put at risk by the chemicals found in the fluid that is being used for fracking operations – a fear they would like to put to bed.

... The actual chemicals used in frack fluid along with the air of secrecy that surrounds them has been paramount to the public criticism voiced thus far.

'There’s a lot of fear and hysteria that’s been created to a certain extent for really no reason,' said Berg.

The ERCB, Alberta’s regulating body for the oil and gas industry, is working to launch an initiative to disclose what chemicals are being used by all frack companies, and the LIPG is prepared to reveal that list when the time comes, which, according to NAL’s drilling and completions worker Clive Mountford, is expected to be by the end of the year.

'We will go through the disclosure process once the board gets it organized in terms of how to do it,' Berg indicated. 'The recipe itself is proprietary in terms of there are some advantages (and) competition between different frack companies in terms of what the recipe is, and that’s why people don’t want to disclose that to all their competitors, so there’s some element of competition involved in that.'

In order for a fracking operation to be carried out, certain chemicals, such as a jelling agent, must be used to thicken the water – guar beans being the most commonly used ingredient.

'It has ten times the thickening property of cornstarch,' said Trican’s VP of Marketing, Dave Browne. “That’s the primary thing we use in the frack fluid and at one time we had a few additives in there that we don’t need so we removed those.

'One of the common additives that we’ve removed in the last few years is either methanol or glycol that was used to stop the product from freezing. We’ve got heated chemical carriers now, so we’ve eliminated a lot of those chemicals.' ... more.

600 litres of methanol sits on a frack truck near Cochrane, Alberta - November 2011


Roads Concern Rocky View County Residents

Overall, roads are the top priority for just about everybody

By Derek Clouthier, September 26, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

The first phase of development for the Rocky View County (RVC) Plan is now complete, and the upkeep of the region’s roadways tops the priority list for most county residents.

'Overall, roads are the top priority for just about everybody,' said County Plan project manager Richard Barss.

Rocky View County, Alberta

'But when you do break it down to some of these sub areas, some communities, like Bearspaw, fire protection ranked number one and roads came out number two.'

Rocky View County, Alberta

Barss said that although roads came out on top in the northwest quadrant where Cochrane is located, agriculture and food came in at a close second.

Rocky View County, Alberta

'There are definite differences amongst our various communities and areas,' said Barss, 'so that also might help us when we write the County Plan.'

Rocky View County, Alberta

Phase one of the public engagement for the RVC Plan included a survey for county residents to fill out and, in total, 1,276 RVC residents partook. Fire protection and prevention came in second on the precedence list, followed by agriculture and food, sewage, stormwater and garbage and watershed management rounded out the top five.

'We’re really pleased with the response,' said Barss. 'It showed some cross the county trends, but it also brought out differences. The county is very big…so we would recognize there’re also different needs and different ways of thinking in the county.'

Rocky View County, Alberta

Barss said the county will model the new RVC Plan based on these differences to reflect the various needs depending on whether one lives in Langdon, Cochrane or in a more rural area of the county. The plan will determine a set of guidelines for the county over the next 10 years, prioritizing the various projects residents want to see completed during that timeframe.

Rocky View County, Alberta 

... The next step in the process of creating the RVC Plan is a series of workshops, seven in total, that will dig deeper into what county residents want to see happen over the next decade. ... more.


Tankers haul fresh water in preparation for another frac job on the multi-well frac sites near the community of Willow Way, Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta. 2014 


The local "landscaping" slumps near the lease road to the multi-well frac sites by the community of Willow Way, Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta. 2014


A different view of the slump near the lease road to the multi-well frac sites by the community of Willow Way, Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta. 2014 



CAUS Holds Second Meeting to Address Fracking

By Derek Clouthier, October 3, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

Road damage was also addressed during the meeting, particularly who pays for the repairs. Despite a previous assertion that an energy company has donated $500,000 to RVC for road repairs, CAUS said that after their own research, no such payment had ever been made. ... more.


Rocky View County Councillor Speaks Out On Recent Council Decisions

Other concerns raised in his announcement stated the transportation levy is too low and the reserve account can only pay to build six kilometres of road.

By Sylvia Cole, Nov 12, 2012, Rocky View Weekly

... When contacted, Sacuta said it’s important for him to put these ads out so people in the county knows what’s going on. He said the news stories don’t necessarily cover everything and he “owes it to the people” who elected him to get the information out.

This isn’t the first time Sacuta has placed an ad — he said he’s been doing it for quite some time and finds the feedback from residents in Rocky View County has generally been positive so he continues with it.

Other concerns raised in his announcement stated the transportation levy is too low and the reserve account can only pay to build six kilometres of road. ... more.

Road damage in front of Petrobakken's (Lightstream Resources) multi-well pad in Bearspaw. Twp Road 262 east of Bearspaw Road, Rocky View County, Alberta

Road damage in front of Petrobakken's (Lightstream Resources) multi-well pad in Bearspaw. Twp Road 262 east of Bearspaw Road, Rocky View County, Alberta


Study: $7 Billion Bill for North Dakota Road Upkeep Over 20 Years

The study was limited to county and township roads, and did not include state-maintained highways, North Dakota's two interstates or the cost of maintaining bridges.

By DALE WETZEL, Associated Press – September 21, 2012 

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's county and township roads, which have been pounded by truck traffic amid a flourishing state economy, will cost $7 billion to maintain over the next two decades, a new study estimates.

The survey, done by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, says $834 million is needed during the next two years alone. About two-thirds of that should be used in western North Dakota's booming oil-producing region, the study says.

... It shows that legislators will have plenty of spending demands on the state's oil-driven budget surplus, which is expected to reach $1.6 billion by June.





In 2010, the institute did a similar survey of county and township road construction and repair needs. It recommended spending $654 million on road upkeep during the following two years, including $356 million for roads in North Dakota's oil region. Lawmakers responded by boosting spending on the state's road network.




Denver Tolliver, the transportation institute's director, attributed the 28 percent rise in recommended support for roads in the last two years to skyrocketing construction costs and an 80 percent increase in the number of oil wells that state regulators expect will be drilled in western North Dakota.










North Dakota had about 7,300 producing oil wells in July, according to the state Department of Mineral Resources. The agency has upped the number of wells it expects to be drilled in the next two decades from 21,000 to about 46,000, Tolliver said.



'There have been some very significant changes since we did the (earlier) studies,' Tolliver said.

The study was limited to county and township roads, and did not include state-maintained highways, North Dakota's two interstates or the cost of maintaining bridges. ... more.


Residents Want Testing Of Excessive Amounts Of Fluids Being Sprayed On Local Roads By Oil Companies

Thomas said he believes that at this point, Lightstream is lying to area residents about what is being put on the roads near the company’s 14-25 site, and that the black stuff being used came from the well.

Oil companies spray a road in the Lochend area. Rocky View County, Alberta


Residents fret over fluid used for dust control

By Derek Clouthier, Sept. 05, 2013, Cochrane Eagle

A pair of residents who dwell north of Cochrane have voiced concern over how a section of road has been maintained by a Calgary energy company operating a hydraulic fracturing site in the area, more specifically, what is being used to treat the roadways.

Dan Thomas and Mike Ross have both expressed unease over what they have referred to as ‘very dark, brown or black-looking stuff’ being spread on Township Road 274 and Range Road 40 as a means of dust control.

Thomas, who is a member of the local coalition Cochrane Area Under Siege (CAUS), an organization that has voiced apprehension over the practice of ‘fracking’ in the region, said he approached one of the truck drivers last year who was spreading water on the road during a rainfall, and that the driver admitted that putting water on a gravel road while it was raining ‘did not make any sense,’ but that ‘they’ were making him do it.

Thomas said he did not know whom the driver meant by ‘they’, but that he later contacted Lightstream Resources (formerly PetroBakken Energy), the energy company operating in the area, to voice his displeasure over what he believed to be an abundance of water on the road, but to no avail.

Fast forward a year, and Thomas said not only has the dumping continued, but also he is now unsure what kind of substance is being put on the roads.

“It appears the haulers were trying to confuse the residents by dumping well fluids under the guise of water-based dust control,” Thomas claimed.

“It’s a heck of a mess out here,” echoed Ross, who owns an equestrian centre in the area. “The stuff coming out of the back of the truck is brown to black…it’s not just water.”

Chas Filipski of Lightstream said that his company uses calcium to control dust on the roads around site 14-25, which is near Township Road 274 and Range Road 40.

“This is an approved procedure by the Rocky View (County) Roads department,” said Filipski. “It is part of our mandate under our road-use agreement with (the county) that we keep the roads maintained as we work.”

Filipski said they use calcium as a stabilizer for dust control as a courtesy to the county and its residents.

“It works and lasts longer than water,” he said, “which we don’t want to waste, as it allows us to use less water.”

Filipski also pointed out that Lightstream does have a permit from the county to use the roads in question, and that they are inspected by the county to make sure they are being properly preserved.

Rocky View County (RVC) concurred, indicating that Lightstream does possess a permit, and that the county has inspected both the roads.

“The county does inspect the roads regularly to ensure compliance,” said Stacy McGuire, RVC communications coordinator, “and yes, we have inspected Township Road 274 and Range Road 40 and we have full compliance with the road-use agreement.”

McGuire also pointed out that to control dust, the county, and companies that sign the road-use agreement, use calcium chloride, which is like highly concentrated salt water.

“This is an environmentally friendly product,” said McGuire, adding that molasses is used as a ‘major ingredient.’

Thomas, however, believes that it is unlikely that molasses would be a primary ingredient in the liquid being used on the roads, and questions why the county or a company would use a product so high in salt content, as it would be quite corrosive on vehicles that utilize the road.

Thomas, who is a former energy sector employee, added that produced water from a well site would certainly be highly saline, but he questions whether using it on the roads is legal, saying it often has trace or significant amounts of hydrocarbon in it.

Hydrocarbon naturally occurs in crude oil and is an organic compound mixture of hydrogen and carbon.

Thomas said he believes that at this point, Lightstream is lying to area residents about what is being put on the roads near the company’s 14-25 site, and that the black stuff being used came from the well.

“These guys will do anything to look ‘green,’” said Thomas. “Ultimately, someone should test the material…that means the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.” ... more.

Do snow-packed gravel roads require "dust control?"  This and photos below taken minutes apart. October 2013 - Lochend, Rocky View County, Alberta


Someone seems to think so. This is the same road, closer to the fracked well sites. 


Which way did they go?  Lochend, Rocky View County, Alberta


APPROVED: Encana's Frack Waste Spread On Roads In Michigan

The total was over 40,000 gallons.

By Ban Michigan Fracking, Jan. 14, 2013

... Documents and emails originally obtained last fall showed the state agency permitted spraying of flowback on roads early last summer for 30 days.  The total was over 40,000 gallons. 

"Newly-released documents now show the frack wastes were sprayed in a state forest between two horizontal frack wells in Kalkaska County. In Cheboygan County flowback was spread on roads abutting Paradise Lake, on camp roads at Mill Creek Campground, and in an industrial yard. They also show the spraying was permitted for 94 days, not just 30.

The source wells were drilled and fracked in 2011 by Encana Oil & Gas. They are three miles apart on Sunset Trail, in the Mackinaw State Forest in Kalkaska County.

Paul Brady lives near Sunset Trail, the most heavily frack-sprayed road. Last spring he noticed the heavy spraying of Sunset Trail between the two Excelsior Township frack wells and took photos.

'Discovering the wastewater that was dumped on Sunset Trail was disturbing,' Brady said. 'Sunset Trail is a popular road for all types of recreation including hunting, gathering morels, or just walking the dog. The North Branch of the Manistee River is also very close and is a huge part of what makes this area unique.'

... DEQ field operations chief Rick Henderson stated in an email that 954 barrels of flowback had been spread from two wells for 15 days starting on May 30.

BMF responded in September with a formal demand for more documentation about the incident through the Freedom of Information Act. BMF headlined the story on the group’s website: 'Michigan Frack Disaster – Over 40,000 gallons of frack fluids approved by Michigan DEQ for use on roads.'" ... more.



CAUS Holds Second Meeting to Address Fracking

"This is in our backyard,” said Tresidder, "and it’s not going to go away unless we say something."


By Derek Clouthier, October 3, 2012, Cochrane Eagle

The local coalition Cochrane Area Under Siege (CAUS) held a second open house to address their concerns over hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the Lochend area.

The meeting, which saw approximately 20 people attend, touched upon several issues CAUS believes poses a threat to residents of the Cochrane region.

One of such threats was the claim that oil and gas companies with fracking operations in the area – which primarily consists of the six Lochend Industry Producers Group (LIPG) companies – are not employing the use of incinerators to properly burn off excess gas.

Gary Tresidder, who spoke during the CAUS open house, alleged that the use of flare stacks were being used instead of incinerators, and that these flare stacks (which he also claimed utilized what is referred to as a ‘flare shield’ to mask the height of the flame that can be seen during burn off) do not reach a high enough heat to entirely dissipate excess gas.

'They’re very ineffective and inefficient,' said Tresidder, 'and do not burn off the chemicals.'

He added that when there is a northerly wind, all those unburned chemicals get swept directly into Cochrane.

'This is in our backyard,” said Tresidder, 'and it’s not going to go away unless we say something.'

The LIPG, on the other hand, contend that their companies are making every attempt to not only discontinue the use of flare stacks, which they say they ceased using a year ago, but to be as efficient as possible. ... more.



Residents Concerned About Fracking Rally In Cochrane

'A fellow drove by one of those flare shields — he came to me the next day he had a bubbling red rash.… He had boils on his forehead. One of my other neighbours had to shoot six cows that had rampant cancer' 


Another bovine well site inspection? Giant 'flare shield' on multi-well pad in the Lochend. Rocky View County, Alberta


3 'flare shields' on a well pad. How many do they need for one well? Rocky View County, AlbertaCBC News  Sep 15, 2012 

About 40 people living in and around the Cochrane area west of Calgary gathered Saturday to rally against fracking.

... Many people, including Karen Faulk, are concerned about air and groundwater contamination.

“When you start taking random stories, you start to see patterns and for me I ask why?” Faulk explained.

Her concerns are echoed by many who showed up to the rally including.

“A fellow drove by one of those flare shields — he came to me the next day he had a bubbling red rash.… He had boils on his forehead. One of my other neighbours had to shoot six cows that had rampant cancer,” said Gary Tresidder at the rally.

Local residents say people living near the wells are losing their hair and they worry cancer rates are higher in those areas. ... more.

Blackened 'flare shield'. This one looks a little hot. Rocky View County, Alberta


Interesting colours, what's cooking? Two 'flare shields" on a multi-well pad at night. Rocky View County, Alberta


Two 'flare shields' on a multi-well pad in Bearspaw, Rocky View County, Alberta 


Two 'flare shields' sit on what is to become a multi-well pad after a frack job near the Town of Cochrane's new residential development of Sunset Ridge. 


 A chemical and radiation infused "windsock?" After a Lochend frack job, the wind appears to be coming from the north. Rocky View County, Alberta 


In Situ Measurements Of Atmospheric Gamma Radiation In The Gas Flaring Environment Of The Ologbo Town, Nigeria

We recommend that flaring should not be done where human population is high or near residential areas because of the radon gas released.

By Onosohwo, B.U.; Mangset, E.W. and Khandaker, M.U., Malaysian Journal of Science 33 (1): 99-106 (2014)

ABSTRACT:  The atmospheric gamma radiation level in gas flaring environment has gained the attention of researchers and environmentalists due to its devastating impact both on the climate and the environment. It is important to make a quantitative assessment of the gamma radiation in the gas flaring environment and nearby residential areas. 

In situ measurements of the gamma radiation were performed using a nuclear radiation monitoring device: Digilert-50, Stop watch and a geographical positioning system. Data were collected from two different locations: Ologbo town and 40m away to the flaring site. Measured data showed that the mean equivalent dose rate at 40m away to the flaring site during flaring period was 1.02mSv/yr, and at Ologbo town was 1.04mSv/yr. 

The obtained dose rate in the flaring site and Ologbo town area exceeded the International Atomic Energy Agency and International Commission on Radiological Protection recommended safety limit (>1mSv/yr.) for the general public. 

This shows that the flaring activities have impacted the surrounding environment radiologically. This may pose long-term health side effects on the workers and residents of the host communities. 

We recommend that flaring should not be done where human population is high or near residential areas because of the radon gas released.

... Furthermore, the radiation levels recorded for gas flare facilities and natural gas compressor stations are fairly higher than other facilities. This confirms the high concentration of radon gas and heavy metals normally associated with natural and associated gas. 

This radon concentration of natural gas at these facilities in the region when compared to those obtained in other countries of the world such as USA, Great Britain and Canada, it may be seen that the facilities radiation levels in Nigeria is fairly smaller compared to those reported in USA and Canada where radon concentration (radiation levels) constitutes enormous environmental problems requiring government legislation for the control of NORM contamination in their petroleum industries. ... more.


Canaries In Coal Mines

Alberta Energy Regulator admits they don't know what's spewing from well sites - and they're not looking; "No, we do not have a totally accurate comprehensive information on the flare composition."

Diana DaunheimerDecember 14, 2014 by Green Planet Monitor

Bob Willard, Senior advisor at the Alberta Energy Regulator, agreed to speak about current regulations.

David Kattenburg: Why aren’t these things being monitored for in the gases that are coming out from flaring and incineration stacks?

Bob: The long list that you’ve identified would be the responsibility for monitoring of not only the Alberta Energy Regulator, but the Environment department themselves, and I would direct you once again to ESRD for them to identify what their plans are relative to updating those guidelines.

David: I have actually, I’ve tried valiantly I’d say, to try to get them to explain to me why they have these guidelines that say all industry MUST conform to these guidelines, and then I said: "well why does directive 60 of the Alberta Energy Regulator only establish monitoring requirements for sulfur dioxide?" and he said: “speak to the Alberta Energy Regulator.” 

Bob: Um, it is important, and this is something the Energy Regulator does lead, is capturing the metrics of the volumes of material, so we do have good metrics as to the volumetrics.

David: But essentially nothing about the composition of those gases, other than sulfur dioxide.

Bob: A totally accurate composition, I would certainly volunteer that, no, we do not have a totally accurate comprehensive information on the flare composition, rather, we have it for the uh volumes, but not necessarily for the compositions. ... more.


 Lochend area, Rocky View County, Alberta. 2014 


Onward, upward, and downward.  A "cloud" floats over the Cochrane, Lochend, and Bearspaw areas from the Cochrane gas plant. 2014


Welcome To The New Dawn Of Deregulation: Off-Lease "Odours" For Everyone! 

Of greatest concern is that off-lease odours are now permitted from energy sites. The previous document was clear; no off-lease odours were allowed.

Alberta Energy Regulator should be Ashamed

By Diana Daunheimer, June 24, 2014 , Mountain View Gazette

 ... Having read these documents in their entirety, I am not fooled by the shallow affirming statements of regulatory executives but appalled by their audacity to advertise these changes as progressively better.

Of greatest concern is that off-lease odours are now permitted from energy sites. The previous document was clear; no off-lease odours were allowed.

Reasonably so, NO contamination should be leaving these sites. To point out the obvious, these are not odours; cooking fish in the house causes odours. Flaring, incineration and venting create emissions containing numerous hazardous and toxic chemicals. Many of these substances are definitively known to impact health and at levels below olfactory detection.

... Sour gas air quality dispersion guidelines have also changed exponentially. 

The previous regulations required analysis on sour gas wells over one per cent; that value is now five per cent. Five per cent equates to 50,000 ppm and H2S is fatal at 1,000 ppm. 

Byproducts of burning acid gas such as sulphur dioxide and carbon disulphide are potent respiratory and neurological toxins. To increase the dispersion modelling to such a degree demonstrates total disregard for the health and safety of communities where industry operates.

It is impossible to reconcile how these changes are an improvement, unless you are an oil company after shale gas. ... more.


"Remember To Breathe"

Alberta lays out plan to grow tourism industry

By Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald, October 29, 2013

"The new Alberta Tourism Framework, a strategy for turning what is currently a $7.8 billion industry into a $10.3 billion industry, was developed in consultation with Travel Alberta and industry representatives. It aims to build on Travel Alberta’s successful 'Remember to Breathe' marketing strategy, convincing more travellers to seek out the Alberta experience.

One of several priorities of the framework is expanding the province’s supply of tourism experiences, especially in national and provincial parks and on Crown land near water, mountains or other natural attractions.

'Our mature iconic national park destinations are capped in terms of commercial growth, and we face strong competition from new, high quality destinations; there is an urgent need for new destination development in Alberta and outside the mountain national parks,' said the document. ... more.


Public Health Experts Call on Governor to Study Fracking’s Impact on Cancer-Causing Radon Levels Before Making a Decision On Whether to Allow Drilling

State Medical Society Weighs in Supporting Legislation That Protects Public Health by Limiting Radon Exposure

Press Release May 8, 2014

Albany, NY – Leading public health experts and the American Lung Association of the Northeast released a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to study radon levels in shale gas before making a decision on whether to allow fracking. Relatedly, the State Medical Society issued a resolution supporting legislation that protects the public from excess radon exposure.

Public health experts are concerned that elevated levels of radon, which according to the US Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control is the second leading cause of lung cancer, could reach people’s homes through the natural gas system. Because of elevated levels of radon in the Marcellus Shale and because radon in natural gas from the Marcellus shale might not have time to decay before it gets used in homes and offices, it is important that radon levels be quantified, risks to exposure be limited, and any decision on whether to drill for gas in New York include a full study of the potential radon exposure.

The letter references EPA’s concerns about radon in Marcellus gas expressed in official comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

... According to the experts, including Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and David Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment University at Albany, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft environmental impact statement on shale gas drilling contains little analysis of radium risks and only one sentence about radon.[1] “Many states have moved forward with shale gas drilling and distribution before examining important evidence about risks. We need to limit risks to the public, and to do that we need to quantify what exposures may be taking place,” said Dr. Carpenter.

The full text of the letter is below:


The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany NY 12224

May 8, 2014


Dear Governor Cuomo:

We are writing to urge your administration to conduct studies and a human health risk assessment of the occurrence of radon and radium during drilling for natural gas before deciding whether to allow drilling in New York’s portion of the Marcellus shale or the distribution to New Yorkers of Marcellus shale gas containing unhealthy levels of radon. We urge your administration to make public any and all data collected about the presence of these two carcinogenic elements in Marcellus shale drilling so that the citizens of New York will have full access to the information used in your decisionmaking.

Our primary concerns are that natural gas produced from the Marcellus shale may contain levels of radon and its decay products that are significantly higher than gas currently being distributed in New York and that wastewater and other drilling wastes from Marcellus shale drilling may contain high concentrations of radium that pose health risks if disposed of improperly. 

High radon levels are problematic both to potential end users and as an occupational hazard. Radon present in natural gas may have insufficient time to decay if transported through gas pipelines to homes and other buildings in the state. Therefore, indoor use of radon-containing natural gas for cooking, heating and other purposes might significantly increase cancer risk to the public, especially in New York City and other jurisdictions where homes tend to be smaller and radon could become concentrated in indoor air. 

The radon exposure risk from Marcellus gas may affect not only those living in areas where the gas is distributed, but also those who work in close proximity to natural gas facilities, including personnel who maintain and repair the gas distribution system and gas-fired boilers, building maintenance staff, restaurant cooks and state oil and gas inspectors.

Similarly, radium in natural gas wastes could pose risks to drinking water, soil and aquatic life if it is disposed of improperly. Both radon and radium are classified as known human carcinogens by the International Agency for Cancer Research.[2]

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft environmental impact statement on shale gas drilling contains little analysis of radium risks and only one sentence about radon.[3] The document’s minimal attention to these issues is inadequate and should be remedied by doing a full exposure characterization and health risk assessment of radon, radium and other radioactive byproducts associated with shale gas drilling. The analysis should include a comprehensive study of the levels of radioactivity released from all stages of shale gas production and use and the potential for exposure during exploration, drilling and hydraulic fracturing, transmission to compressor stations and pipelines, delivery to consumers and disposal of drilling wastes.

According to the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is the nation’s second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. Radon is a radioactive decay product of radium, which, in turn, is a decay product of uranium and thorium, elements that are often located deep underground. Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless. It is created only by radioactive decay and can be eliminated only by further radioactive decay. It has a half-life of 3.8 days and does not burn or react chemically. Radon’s radioactive decay products include polonium, a radioactive solid that decays by emitting high-energy alpha particles that damage lung tissue and cause cancer. Radon can accumulate in homes and other buildings by migrating from the ground through cracks and holes in a building’s foundation. However, the CDC recognizes that radon can also collect in homes through the indoor use of natural gas that was previously trapped in underground deposits of uranium- and thorium-bearing rock.[4]

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Geological Survey have previously reported that the Marcellus shale contains both uranium and thorium and the Survey has noted that “the Marcellus is readily identified on geophysical logs by its high gamma-ray signal,” a form of radiation.[5] Moreover, the Survey recently released preliminary sampling data from a limited number of natural gas wells that confirmed that natural gas from the Marcellus shale contains radon. In a report published in 2012, the USGS examined 10 samples of gas collected near the wellheads of three wells producing from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale. It found radon levels ranging from 1-to-79 picocuries per liter, with an average of 36 and a median of 32. The Survey’s scientists noted that they knew of no other published measurements of radon in natural gas from the Appalachian Basin, which contains the Marcellus shale. They concluded that the number of samples “is too small to… yield statistically valid results” and that “the key to better understanding radon, its sources, and behavior in hydrocarbon reservoirs lies with the collection and interpretation of additional data.”[6]

The EPA similarly highlighted the lack of analysis of radon and other radiation exposure in its review of the DEC’s draft plan for shale gas drilling in New York. “Who is responsible for addressing the potential health and safety issues and associated monitoring related to external radiation and the inhalation of radon and its decay products?” the EPA asked. “Such potential concerns need to be addressed.”

While radon levels in produced gas will start to decline as soon as the gas leaves the well, the short distance from Marcellus shale wells to New York’s consumers means that there will likely be little time for radon levels to decline before the gas reaches homes and buildings. The result may be exposures that are higher than current levels and an increased risk of lung cancer. We strongly encourage your administration to take a leadership role in studying radon exposure through natural gas.

With respect to radium, evidence suggests that levels in wastewater from Marcellus shale gas drilling are unusually high. Radium contaminates underground water deposits that come into contact with uranium- or thorium-bearing rock.[7] In 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that radium levels in produced water from oil and gas wells in New York and Pennsylvania, including those in the Marcellus shale, “have a distinctly higher median… than reported for other formations in the Appalachian Basin, and range to higher values than reported in other basins.” (Generally, produced water is a term for naturally occurring water that comes to the surface in the oil and gas production process; it is distinct from “flowback,” hydraulic fracturing fluid that returns to the surface after being injected during the drilling process. However, here the U.S. Geological survey defines produced water as “produced from an oil or gas well at any point during its life cycle.”) The agency also found that the range of radium levels from produced water in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale was similar to New York’s, although the median level was lower “due, at least in part, to dilution of formation water by formation water injected for hydraulic fracturing.”[8] Because radon is a decay product of radium, high levels of radium suggest high levels of radon.

In 2011, The New York Times reported that drilling companies were dumping millions of gallons of wastewater from Marcellus shale gas wells in Pennsylvania into treatment plants, and that the wastewater from 42 wells studied contained radium levels up to 3,600 times EPA’s safety standard for drinking water. In some cases, the treatment plants were not equipped to treat the wastewater and discharged it into rivers just upstream from drinking water intakes.[9] A peer-reviewed study of the impacts of drilling wastewater treated and discharged into a creek by a wastewater facility in western Pennsylvania recently documented radium levels approximately 200 times greater in sediment samples near the discharge than in sediment samples collected upstream of the plant or in other locations in western Pennsylvania. “The absolute levels that we found are much higher than what you allow in the U.S. for any place to dump radioactive material,” one of the authors told Bloomberg.[10] The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has previously found that produced water from 11 of 13 vertical wells drilled in New York’s Marcellus shale in 2008 and 2009 contained radium levels ranging from 400 times to nearly 3,400 times EPA’s safe level. That data was included in the U.S. Geological Survey’s study of radium.[11]

Despite this evidence, the Department’s assessment of radium risks and how to contend with them appears lacking. Although its report stated that “there is questionable available capacity”[12] for New York’s public sewage treatment plants to accept drilling wastewater, it would allow those facilities to accept it if the plants meet permitting conditions.[13] The agency said that underground injection (perhaps the most common method of disposal of drilling wastewater) might be an alternative,[14] even though the last significant government study of pollution risks from oil and gas underground injection wells took place in 1989 and found significant instances of groundwater contamination.[15] In the years since, news stories and studies have continued to link underground injection of drilling wastewater to contamination as well as earthquakes.[16]

The DEC assessment reported that a radioactive materials license might be required for facilities that concentrate naturally occurring radioactive materials during pre-treatment or treatment of drilling wastewater.[17] In its review of the Department’s analysis, the U.S. EPA noted that it was unclear who would be responsible for ultimate disposal of these concentrated radioactive materials.[18]

To ensure the safety of the residents of New York state, it is essential to conduct a thorough assessment of exactly how radium and other radioactive wastes from Marcellus shale drilling operations would be handled and what health risks these wastes would pose. In addition, New York should determine exactly how and whether such wastes can be disposed of safely.

Radon and radium are known human carcinogens that have been found in significant levels in natural gas and natural gas wastes in the Marcellus shale. New York must carefully assess the risks of exposure to these pollutants before making a decision about how or whether to drill for shale gas or to distribute Marcellus shale gas containing unhealthy levels of radon.


Helen Caldicott, MD

Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and President of the Helen Caldicott Foundation

Wilma Subra, PhD

President, Subra Company

David O. Carpenter, MD

Director, Institute for Health and the Environment University at Albany

Michael Seilback, MPA

Vice President, Public Policy & Communications, American Lung Association of the Northeast

David R. Brown, DSc

Environmental Health Consultant

Larysa Dyrszka, MD

Concerned Health Professionals of NY

Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL

Research Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper

Barbara Warren, RN, MS

Member, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Sheila Bushkin, MD

Member, Medical Society of the State of New York



Cochrane Homes Test High For Radon

"Due to the geology of Southern Alberta, we are in a high risk area and the results we are finding have been consistent with that"

A rig sign directs oilfield traffic to a drill and frack site next to the new residential neighbourhood of Sunset Ridge in Cochrane, Alberta. 2014  

By Lindsay Seewalt, Nov 28, 2013, Cochrane Eagle

It’s odourless, tasteless and invisible. It’s also the second leading cause of lung cancer, next to smoking, or the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. And it just might be reaching dangerous levels in your home without you even knowing it.

A radioactive noble gas, Albertans are among the last to know about radon — how long-term exposure to it in enclosed spaces (homes) can be lethal and yet how easy it is to mitigate.

With the push by Health Canada to make November "Radon Action Month", Cochranite and co-owner of Radon West, Renata MacQueen, is on a mission to raise awareness in Cochrane and surrounding municipalities. 

"Due to the geology of Southern Alberta, we are in a high risk area and the results we are finding have been consistent with that," explained MacQueen, who estimates that over 40 per cent of the homes her company tests in Calgary, Okotoks and Canmore are testing high for radon.

MacQueen explained that glacial till gets pushed into Southern Alberta by glaciers from such areas as Alaska, Northern B.C. and the Yukon, where there are high levels of radon.

“In Canada, radon is measured in a unit called a Becqueral per meter cubed (Bq/m3)…we have been consistently finding levels above Health Canada’s actionable 200 Bq/m3, while testing communities from Banff all the way down to Lethbridge.”

... MacQueen’s own Cochrane home tested at a staggering 2,491 Bq/m3. 

Her sister and business partner, Karin Dumais, also tested high, 322 Bq/m3, in her Okotoks home. 

... One Cochrane woman has broken the record for Radon West. Her home tested at 3,441 Bq/m3. 

Although she mitigated her home in the fall of 2012 and continues to regularly test her radon levels, her doctor has referred her for a CT scan, as she lived in her home for so many years with no idea she was being exposed to such high levels of radon.

"I was horrified," said the women, who wished to remain anonymous. "I couldn’t even be in the house until it was mitigated."

The women said what concerns her the most is the lack of awareness in Alberta — how so few people she talks to actually know about the side effects of long-term exposure to high levels of radon in their homes. ... more. 


Fracking Increases Radon Gas Hazard, US Study Finds

Levels of the carcinogenic gas rising in Pennsylvanian homes near industry sites.

The U.S. findings collaborate and strengthen earlier studies by Australian researchers at Southern Cross University as well as recent shale gas research in Colorado. All suggest that the industrial activity of fracking can speed up the release of the odourless and tasteless gas in geologies already rich in uranium.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, April 13, 2015, The

Another major U.S. health study has found that the hydraulic fracking of unconventional rock formations can liberate and accelerate the release of radon, a highly carcinogenic gas.  

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that radon levels in U.S. homes in Pennsylvania have been on the rise ever since fracking of the Marcellus shale began in 2004.

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that buildings in areas of the most active shale gas mining had significantly higher readings of radon compared to buildings located in areas of low well density and fracking activity.

The study looked at radon levels in more than 700,000 structures between 2004 and 2013. Buildings using well water had 21 per cent higher indoor radon concentrations than homes using municipal water, the study reported. "The release of waterborne radon during showering or washing can contribute to concentrations in buildings," it said.

Radon can be found in well water, natural gas and the atmosphere wherever rock formations or soils contain lots of decaying uranium. Lung cancer caused by radon kills about 3,000 Canadians a year.

The U.S. findings collaborate and strengthen earlier studies by Australian researchers at Southern Cross University as well as recent shale gas research in Colorado. All suggest that the industrial activity of fracking can speed up the release of the odourless and tasteless gas in geologies already rich in uranium.

In 2013, Douglas Tait, Isaac Santos and Damien Maher reported that the radon air levels above the heavily fracked Surat Basin in Queensland, Australia were three times greater than those observed in a non-fracking region. (A separate and earlier study also showed that methane and carbon dioxide levels in the air were three times higher in the mined landscape.)

The Australian researchers suggested that the shallow fracking of coal seams radically changed "the geological structure" of the ground by cracking rock, removing water and lowering pressure in the formation. The fracturing of the ground structure simply created more pathways for radon and other gases to leak up through the soil.

Conceptual model of how gas pathways are altered due to fracking. Source: Australian study, Douglas Tait, Isaac Santos and Damien Maher.

The mechanism for releasing radon into the atmosphere in fracked landscapes may be similar to that caused by earthquakes, added the researchers. Atmospheric levels of radon will typically increase fivefold prior to an earthquake due to stress changes in rock which, in turn, opens new fractures and pathways to the surface.

Hydraulic fracturing pulverizes low quality rock formations to release small amounts of oil and gas over vast geographic areas.  

The technology causes small earthquakes by design, but in recent years, as the industry has used more force to crack rock in ever deeper formations, it has triggered significant earthquake activity. Many of these industry-made quakes could be felt on the surface in Alberta, British Columbia, Ohio and Oklahoma.

'Southern Alberta is a hotspot'

"The disruptive process" of fracking, explain the John Hopkins researchers, not only brings gas to the surface but can liberate "heavy metals and organic and radioactive materials such as radium-226, which decays into radon."

In a press release, Joan A. Casey, lead author in the Hopkins study, explained that "the fracking industry may have changed the geology and created new pathways for radon to rise to the surface. Now there are a lot of potential ways that fracking may be distributing and spreading radon."

Radon liberated by the fracking of more than 7,000 horizontal shale wells in Pennsylvania may dissolve into well water, be released into the air near gas wells, or wander through soil into house foundations. It may also enter homes via cooking stoves and furnaces. 

A 2012 Health Canada study found that more than seven per cent of the homes measured in Calgary, Peace River, David Thompson and Aspen regional health districts had dangerous levels of radon (200 becquerels per cubic metre). High levels of radon have also been found in northeast B.C. That geographic region has also witnessed intense shale gas activity over the last decade.

Renata MacQueen, one of the owners of Radon West, an Alberta-based company that measures and fixes radon problems, said fracking can "increase the levels of radon by opening pathways in the soil and it then can move into the home or water." But she adds the danger is pre-existing, due to the high uranium content of many soils and rock formations in Canada such as those in southern Alberta.

"Southern Alberta is a hotspot. Even if you don't live near a well site, you should test your home," said MacQueen.    

More pathways, more risk

The John Hopkins study discovered that houses located in suburban townships, where the density of gas wells is the greatest, had a 39 per cent higher concentration of radon than those in the cities.  

"We found a statistically significant association between proximity to unconventional natural gas wells drilled in the Marcellus shale and first floor radon concentration in the summer, with a positive, but attenuated association for basement levels, which suggests a pathway through outdoor ambient air, but does not rule out the possibility of radon moving from the basement to the first floor."

In addition, nearly 300,000 homes had a first basement test result that exceeded federal safety levels.

"We observed fluctuating radon concentrations throughout the study period; low Marcellus activity counties consistently had lower radon concentrations than both high and no Marcellus activity counties, before and after drilling began," added the study.

Pennsylvania, the home of the U.S. oil boom which began in the 1860s, is one of the most heavily drilled jurisdictions in North America. Industry has punctured the state's geology with nearly a million holes, and then cracked and fracked that geology again during the shale boom.

Given that much of the state's geology is also uranium rich and that well densities are extremely high, it is no surprise that the state has some of the highest indoor radon levels in the U.S.

The connection between radon migration and hydraulic fracking has been documented in other regions, too. A 2013 study by the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs found radon levels at fracking sites so high that they recommended better air monitoring.

"The fracked rock releases radon that was trapped by the tight shale formation which then is able to flow along the lateral sections of the fracked zone and be pumped up the well bore to the surface," concluded the study. "Radon is then released to the atmosphere at the fracking site in levels which may be of some health concern to nearby workers or residents."

An industry textbook on gas migration explains that drilling holes in the ground and then injecting them with water or gases can force gases including radon, carbon dioxide and methane to migrate and find paths to the surface. The more pathways created by the industry, the greater the risk for encountering stray gases: "There is a risk of gas migration into homes, apartment buildings and commercial structures, which have been built in the area of producing oil fields."

In addition, the well-known textbook by Leonid Khilyuk and George Chilingar also notes that seismic activity, such as industrial fracking or earthquakes, can greatly accelerate upward gas migration by creating new faults and fractures, or by increasing the sponginess of the rock formation.

All of the studies called for better baseline data and improved radon monitoring in regions of unconventional drilling and fracking.

"Radon exposure represents a major environmental health risk, and in addition to future studies to understand the impact of drilling on radon levels, there is continuing need for a radon program in Pennsylvania to track and evaluate radon concentrations and to encourage testing and remediation," concluded the John Hopkins study.



Rocky View County, ERCB To Cohost Meeting About Oil And Gas Drilling

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), Alberta Energy and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have also been requested to participate in the open house.

By Kimberley Massey, Oct 22, 2012, Rocky View Weekly
Rocky View County and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) plan to hold a public open house to discuss oil and gas activities in the county next month.
During an Oct. 16 meeting, Rocky View General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Byron Riemann told council the ERCB plans to provide information specific to activities in the area’s Cardium formation and related drilling and fracking practices in Springbank, Cochrane, Bearspaw and northeast Rocky View.
He added Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), Alberta Energy and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have also been requested to participate in the open house.
Councillor Kim Magnuson said it is important to have the meeting as soon as possible.
An Agricultural and residential area near Big Hill Springs Provincial Park and Oxyoke Nature Preserve - Rocky View County, Alberta“Time is of the essence here and the sooner we get correct information out to people the better,” she said. “It’s going to have an effect on how development happens out here and how we plan development in Rocky View.”
Magnuson said she was originally contacted the ERCB’s Manager of Stakeholder Engagement Tom McGee about the open house, as two drill sites were recently approved in Springbank and 17 parcels of land have been purchased for the same purpose.
“Oil is a burning issue in Springbank,” she said.” We have become the centre of drilling and fracking in the county. I think this is very timely and the sooner we get correct information out to people the better.”
Drilling licenses to two sites near the Bingham Crossing and Harmony developments were granted to Bearspaw company Bernum Petroleum by the ERCB last month. Seventeen quarter sections of Crown land were also purchased by another oil and gas company for $17 million In just 2 years, from agricultural and residential - to toxic industrial? This is the same Lochend area in 2011. Many more wells have been drilled and fracked here since then, with more to come.on Sept. 19 and drilling applications will be submitted to the ERCB.
The majority of the sites are located on the north side of Highway 1 and Magnuson said she expects the trend to continue south, as the Cardium formation extends all the way to Black Diamond.
Magnuson said the ERCB will present information on how oil companies are working to reduce these impacts of fracking on water, roads and communities and allow local residents to address their concerns and ask questions.
“They want to get the right information out there and make sure people have up-to-date information that is all accurate,” she said.
... “I think this is pertinent,” said Boehlke. “I suggest we have the open house at the County office (in Calgary). It’s central, people know how to get here and it accommodates everybody from every area (of the county).”
McLean suggested it be held in an area closer to where the oil and gas activities are taking place.
“We should look at having this where these activities are happening,” he said. “I would prefer to see it held in an area where there is a lot of that kind of activity.” ... more.

Industry Representatives To Host Oil And Gas Workshop In Cochrane ... No Word On Alberta Health

Representatives from the ERCB, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources and Rocky View County will be available ...

Nov 26, 2012 02:48 pm | Sylvia Cole

An information session on oil and gas development in Alberta will be held in Cochrane, Dec. 6.

The session is an overview to familiarize area residents with energy development regulation, explained Darin Barter, communications for the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) in an email.
The information session does not cover one particular topic and no announcement will be made, he added.
... Representatives from the ERCB, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources and Rocky View County will be available at information booths from 4 to 7 p.m. for one-on-one discussions.
A presentation on Energy Resource Development will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a question-and-answer period.
... The event will be held at the Cochrane RancheHouse, 101 RancheHouse Road. ... more.

Dec. 7, 2012 - As one resident who attended the Open House reported ... 

"It was announced at the Open House to a room full of visibly impacted residents;

'Alberta Health couldn't make it.'" 

Click on email for more.


Alberta Health Services (AHS) Session To Discuss End-Of-Life Planning

By The Cochrane Eagle, February 27, 2013

Planning for what one wants to happen when the end of their life nears is normally not at the top of the priority list, but important nonetheless.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is holding a session at the Nan Boothby Memorial Library today (Feb. 27) to address this issue. ... more.


What Do US Medical Professionals Recommend? 

From a presentation by Larysa Dyrszka MD, September 2013 - Click on slide for more.


Alberta Residents [Cochrane Area]: Fracking Fumes Damaging To Health - CCTV America, October 11, 2013

CCTV Insight presents What Lies Beneath (21 clips), a week long series where we investigate the Natural Gas revolution in the United States spearheaded by a highly controversial technology known as 'Hydraulic Fracturing.'


Rocky View County lays down the law and a resident responds. - "Nice signs, are they afraid those things won't blend well with the industrialized landscape, light pollution, noise pollution, air pollution, water contamination, waste spreading, excessive truck traffic, ruined roads, sick residents, dead livestock and decimated property values? Good thinking."


Lochend area. Rocky View County, Alberta. 2013


"The Hawkwoods have contacted the Alberta Energy Board and have written to politicians, but nothing has happened.

They said most of their neighbours are trying to sell their properties.

'They’re frightened and they want to leave, or they’ve been affected,' Nielle said.

'There’s a neighbour to the south of us – he has prostate cancer, his wife lost her hair, their two teenage daughters lost their hair; they’ve abandoned the house and told the real estate agent to get what you can for it.'"

—Rocky View County Rancher Nielle Hawkwood - Lethbridge Herald



Companies carpet bomb the Lochend east of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Rocky View County, Alberta 2014


Partial transcript from: Health scare over backyard fracking in Canada; Locals sue fracking companies in Alberta

By David Kattenburg, February 5, 2014 for Deutsche Welle - World in Progress

... "More are speaking out, and not just about their personal health.

Where are we Howard, what is this? Howard Hawkwood is another member of Cochrane Area Under Siege.

'Right now we're looking at a cow that has just passed away, during the evening, and I don't know why she died.'

Rocky View County, Alberta  Photo: David Kattenburg - Green Planet Monitor

18 of his cows have now died, with over a hundred fracked wells surrounding his property, there's no doubt in Hawkwood's mind what's killing his cattle.

'It is the oil and gas industry, they are responsible for all this stuff, and I'm just tired with the blatant attitude that the oil executives, the presidents, and the shareholders of these companies have towards the common people of Canada and Alberta, actually I'm appalled.'" ... more.


'I get frustrated with people who move to the country and say I like rural — no you don’t,' she said, explaining that rural is the appropriate location for a gravel pit. She added it’s where you find smelly animals, dusty crops and oil wells.

~Rocky View County Councillor Lois Habberfield - Rocky View Weekly


Bearspaw area. Rocky View County, Alberta. 2014 


back to top