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Be wary of fracking in B.C.: prof 0

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

A billboard is seen on the side of the road set up by the law firm representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against two oil companies near Greenbrier, Arkansas. More than a dozen homeowners in central Arkansas are suing two oil companies in federal court, claiming the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, triggered a swarm of more than 1,000 earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that damaged their property. (REUTERS)

A billboard is seen on the side of the road set up by the law firm representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against two oil companies near Greenbrier, Arkansas. More than a dozen homeowners in central Arkansas are suing two oil companies in federal court, claiming the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, triggered a swarm of more than 1,000 earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that damaged their property. (REUTERS)

An associate professor of Earth Sciences at Simon Fraser University says British Columbia needs to study the consequences of injecting wastewater into underground reservoirs before increasing fracking in the province.

Fracking, a method used to reach natural gas, often results in the pumping of wastewater back into the ground.

Shahin Dashtgard said a recent report on the effects of wastewater being pumped into the ground in Oklahoma showed a “sharp increase” in seismic activity in the region since 2008.

Dashtgard said while the province is in an area prone to earthquakes, he isn’t worried the practice could spark the massive quake Vancouver has been promised for years, but that doesn’t mean other problems don’t exist.

“We inject wastewater into underground reservoirs all the time,” he said, pointing out the province has many of them.

“Earthquakes aren’t happening at the actual site where they’re injecting, but they’re happening where they have existing faulted and fractured rocks.”

He said B.C. doesn’t have an appreciation of where such fractures exist, or what other consequences, including earthquakes, could be for the areas in which it is taking place.

As B.C. makes its push to develop liquefied natural gas into a large industry, more wastewater will be pumped into the ground, particularly in the northeast.

Dashtgard said the province has incorrectly imported many guidelines around water disposal from Alberta, which has a different geological makeup.

In June, the University of Victoria also released a study detailing concerns about the disposal of wastewater into the ground.

The B.C. Ministry of Natural Gas did not issue a comment by the 24 hours deadline.  

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