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Judge rules Alberta can be sued over fracking allegations, province may appeal

Jessica Ernst is shown at her home in Rosebud, Alta., Thursday, June 2, 2011. Ernst has lost her appeal to sue the province's energy regulator over hydraulic fracturing on her property.
Jessica Ernst is shown at her home in Rosebud, Alta., Thursday, June 2, 2011. Ernst has lost her appeal to sue the province's energy regulator over hydraulic fracturing on her property. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

ROSEBUD, Alta. – A judge has ruled an Alberta woman who says her well is so contaminated with methane that the water can be set on fire can sue the province over hydraulic fracturing on her property.

Jessica Ernst filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Alberta Environment and energy company Encana in 2007.

She alleges fracking on her land northeast of Calgary released hazardous amounts of chemicals into her well and that her concerns were not properly investigated.

The government asked the court to strike it from the lawsuit, arguing the province is immune from prosecutions under its environment and water legislation.

Chief Justice Neil Wittmann of Court of Queen’s Bench has dismissed the government’s application, and ordered the province pay Ernst legal costs at triple the regular rate.

The Justice Department is reviewing the judgment to determine if it will appeal.

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