COLUMN: Resource extraction good, but there are concerns

Did up you know that in Alberta alone there are more than 450,000 oil and gas wells?

Did up you know that in Alberta alone there are more than 450,000 oil and gas wells? That’s more holes than in a block of Swiss cheese the size of my house.

Virtually the entire province of Alberta is underlain with shale gas, as is half of Saskatchewan and a fairly good chunk of northeastern B.C. When you look at a map of the reserves throughout North America, Canada appears to be the major player – if we were selling the gas. But we’re not, at least not in a big way.

Maybe we need to have a drawl to be large in the oil and gas business. Gas reserves in Texas pale in comparison to those in Canada, but right now they dominate because they are quickly tapping into international markets while we can’t seem to get a pipe into the ground, at least one that ships product for sale overseas.

In Texas the oil market is king. In British Columbia (and it seems in the rest of Canada), everything but the financial bottom line is vastly more important.

Until, of course, the money flow ceases, along with health care benefits, welfare, transit, parks, hospitals, education and anything else you want to credit with the lifestyle we live.

Everyone decries the social network in the U.S., and I agree that for the poor it is appallingly inadequate, and health care incredibly expensive. Yet in Canada, we have done a reasonably good job of trying to take care of everyone. Yes, there’s poverty, and to a lesser degree discrimination.

But on the whole we do things differently here: we care about people, we try not to offend and we go to great lengths to accommodate.

It matters not what life is like for the average Texan, or the average Saudi, though I am led to believe it is good.

What matters to me is the average Canadian. And to maintain what we have here, we need to be able to compete, deliver and reap the bounty of what we have.

I do, however, have concerns about the environmental legacy we may be leaving behind if we don’t exploit our resources properly.

For example, we must be cautious with how we seal and secure abandoned wells and the potential lasting effects of those actions if done wrong.

According to a recent study by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, some 41 billion litres of waste water was pumped into a single well near Fort Nelson in northeast B.C.

That much water, and I hate these quantifying comparisons, is enough to fill 16,700 Olympic swimming pools!

This was not clean water, but fluid contaminated with all sorts of compounds, possibly including lead, arsenic and radio-active materials.

Additionally, since oil and gas production began in the western Canadian Sedimentary Basin underlying the prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, enough waste water and industrial fluids have been pumped into it to fill a lake 21 kilometres long, one km deep and one km wide.

We have been pumping massive amounts of dangerous stuff into the ground, without really knowing where it will eventually end up – like in the aquifer.

That’s a possibility, since “fracking’” – short for fracturing the rock in search of gas – is also creating small earthquakes, something like 38 of them in northeastern B.C. between 2009 and 2012.

* Much of the statistical information provided above was gleaned from stories by Margaret Munro, published in the Vancouver Sun, Dec. 11.

Merry Christmas!

markrushton@abbynews.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

TRAFFIC: Highway 1 accident causing delays eastbound

Ambulance, fire on scene to clear, major backups

UPDATE: Minor injuries in rollover crash that closed Sea-to-Sky

Hwy. 99 not expected to re-open until 2:30 p.m.

Abbotsford swimmers win in Langley

Olympians swim club members earn high grades at intra-club meet

Abbotsford fire chief eyes new rules to keep vacant homes from burning

New rules could help convince absentee landlords and developers to secure vacant houses

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Quarter of seafood sold in Metro Vancouver is mislabelled: researchers

Intentional mislabelling can mask concerns about sustainability or human rights

Murdered BC woman’s final words, ‘I love you, Mom’

It took 10 years, but Lisa Dudley’s mother finally found out what her daughter said before she passed

Completion date for Alex Fraser Bridge improvements pushed to 2019

New traffic lights at Nordel Way and Highway 91 mark the end of phase one of the project

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Helping B.C.’s helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Most Read