Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is going under the microscope in B.C. as the provincial government forms a review panel to analyze safety and environmental concerns.
B.C. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announced on Thursday that she has appointed an independent scientific review of the natural gas extraction process to ensure it is meeting the province’s safety and environmental standards.
Mungall said the panel of three experts in hydrogeology and geological engineering will be taking a further look at some of the issues surrounding gas leakages potentially caused by fracking.
“There’s a lot of concerns about methane leakage, as well as water quality and water quantity,” Mungall said. “That’s some of the things that the hydraulic scientific panel is going to be looking at.”
The energy minister said both industrial and environmental groups are in favor of the review panel being implemented.
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“I think industry wants to find a way they can reduce the environmental footprint,” Mungall said. “They want to make sure the water quality is strong and so do communities and so do environmental organizations.”
Along with obtaining scientific data from organizations and experts, the panel will be responsible for collecting traditional Indigenous knowledge from Treaty 8 First Nations.
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The three-person panel includes Diana M. Allen, Erik Eberhardt and Amanda Bustin. Allen is a hydrogeologist who is also a professor in Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) earth science department.
Eberhardt is the director of UBC’s geological engineering program, as well as a professor of rock mechanics and rock engineering. Bustin is the president of the Bustin Earth Science Consultants and is also a research associate at UBC.
The panel is expected to provide their findings to the minister before the end of the year.
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