I am writing because I am deeply concerned that several different companies in Chemical Valley are considering the Sarnia Lambton region for natural gas extraction through a process called “hydro fracking” in the near future. I am also concerned that there is almost no community awareness in respects to the hydro fracking process and its negative implications.
Hydro fracking (which is officially known as “hydro fracturing”) is the process used to extract natural gas from deposits found in shale rock formations. It is a method that is currently being used throughout the United States and in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. This form of extraction involves using large amounts of water as well as sand and chemicals (the majority of them being toxic) to put pressure on rock formations until they fracture; releasing natural gas. This is done by digging a well vertically into the ground and then horizontally across the formation. Water is inserted in the well putting pressure on the formation and the result is the released natural gas to come up the well as well as the fluid used to frack the water. Although the use of natural gas has been largely seen as a `cleaner` option as opposed to coal, there is increasing evidence that this method may result in a larger carbon footprint in the long run. It is not that the burning of natural gas produces more greenhouse gases rather, that the fracking process itself is still largely flawed. The problem lies in the fact that in the fracking process, methane which is the main component of natural gas is leached not only in the water used to frack rock formations but also into the atmosphere. This becomes a problem as methane is almost 20 times more potent that carbon dioxide. Many communities close to drilling sites have had to experience their watersheds become extremely polluted and in some cases have had their own drinking water become affected.
Jolanta Kowalski, the spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has stated that there is no indication of shale rock formations in Ontario at this time, however in May of 2011 a Sarnia Lambton Shale Gas conference was held at theHoliday Inn. This conference was organized by the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership and the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance and included major oil players such as BP, Imperial Oil, NOVA chemicals and Union Gas. Mooncorp Gas and Oil a company based out of Calgary, was one of the firms present and over the years has acquired hundreds of acres of gas leases in the Sarnia Lambton region.
On Friday September 30th a candlelight vigil is being held to honour victims of our own Chemical Valley and on Saturday October 1st a walk is also being held to remember the victims of Sarnia who have fallen ill due to asbestos. As we can see there are many concerned residents not only wanting to commemorate those who have fallen but also raise awareness due to the harms of working in Chemical Valley and things that need to be changed. Part of this I believe is to make sure Sarnia residents are informed and aware of new innovations that will negatively affect the community while big business continues to profit so that individuals are able to speak up against industries they do not agree with.