April 25, 2017 10:40 pm
Updated: April 25, 2017 10:48 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Scientists discover high volume of methane emissions at B.C. oil and gas facilities

WATCH: In a Global News exclusive, a group of scientists have used some high-tech tools to prove what they say is a shocking volume of pollutants being released into the air by the oil and gas industry. Paul Johnson reports.

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A group of scientists used high-tech tools to record methane gas escaping from oil-and-gas facilities in northeastern B.C.

Scientists at the David Suzuki Foundation captured footage of so-called “fugitive emissions” at facilities in B.C.’s Peace region. The footage shows methane escaping from pipes and through vents in a wall.

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“This is pure methane, basically, that is just being emitted into the environment,” said John Werring, a scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “It’s not captured, it’s not contained, it’s just simply venting on a 24-hour-a-day basis.”

Over a three-year period, Werring and his colleagues took sensing equipment to hundreds of oil-and-gas production sites. Their soon-to-be-published study will report that the amount of fugitive emissions is at least two-and-a-half times higher than the province has acknowledged.

“We never saw anybody doing any kind of constructive maintenance,” Werring said.

Consumers pay a carbon tax every time they put gas in their tank, but the researchers have apparently found a massive release of a much more powerful greenhouse gas that the industry pays nothing for.

“Here in B.C., one of the areas of emissions that is exempt from our current carbon tax is these fugitive emissions,” Steve Kux, a climate policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation, said.

Werring says technology exists to stop the ongoing pollution. The will to use it, however, may not.

“The reason why these things are not being fixed is simply to save money,” he said.

In a statement to Global News, the BC Liberals said:

“Methane emissions are lower in B.C. than many jurisdictions … By 2025, our goal is to reduce fugitive and vented emissions by 45 per cent for infrastructure built before January 1, 2015.”

The BC Green Party said it “would include fugitive emissions in the carbon tax to provide significant incentive to conduct enhanced maintenance.”

BC NDP Leader John Horgan said, “Heavy polluters that are polluting through these fugitive emissions should pay a higher price.”

— With files from Paul Johnson

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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