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NEWS: Don’t sell drinking water for oil project on Lake Ainslie, says Council of Canadians

Toronto-based PetroWorth has applied for provincial permits to drill an exploratory 1,200-metre well for oil in an area on the western side of Lake Ainslie, the largest freshwater lake in Nova Scotia. The company hopes to be able to start drilling this fall. The Chronicle-Herald reports this morning, “The Council of Canadians, a national social activist group, obtained (an Inverness County) document through a freedom of information request stating that PetroWorth ‘shall obtain water for the project from the community of Inverness’s municipal water supply’…”

“(This is) a development that Inverness Warden Duart MacAulay said he didn’t know about. But MacAulay said he would support the initiative. ‘We would sell water to any industry that needed it, if it wouldn’t hurt our residential water supply.’ Garett Beaton, an engineer for Inverness County’s water utility, said Monday that PetroWorth would require roughly 135,000 to 180,000 litres per day (approximately 35,663 to 47,551 gallons). ‘Our system can handle them using 30 to 40 thousand gallons per day without it affecting our everyday usage in town,’ Beaton said. But he said Inverness couldn’t sustain losing that amount of water indefinitely. ‘We couldn’t give them that amount for a whole year,’ he said.”

The water would have to be transported to the site by tanker truck. Depending on the size of the tanker used (the average milk truck holds 4 to 5 thousand gallons), the approval of even 35,000 gallons of water a day means area residents can expect a considerable increase in the volume of truck traffic on their roads.

“Inverness County council has not voted on the issue. ‘We’d love to see the county councillors debate this,’ Thom Oommen, chairman of the Inverness County chapter of the Council of Canadians, said. But MacAulay said it might not matter. ‘We can pass resolutions all we want, but the province has the final say,’ the warden said.”

“In July, the provincial Environment Department approved PetroWorth Resources Inc.’s application to operate a conventional petroleum exploration well in West Lake Ainslie. The province’s Energy Department will decide this fall if PetroWorth can begin drilling. …’We are pretty sure the Department of Energy will approve it if the Department of Environment has approved it already,’ Oommen said Monday. Oommen said he wants to see more transparency from the Dexter government. ‘Approvals are being given out and the public is not hearing about them,’ he said. ‘When the Environment Department approves something, they should tell us why.'”

“PetroWorth’s website says the company has 100 per cent of the exploration and development rights to almost 400,000 hectares of land in the Atlantic provinces, more than 150,000 of which are in Cape Breton. …’Clearly, there appears to be some sort of inside connection there as far as PetroWorth getting development rights to all that land,’ said Meera Karunananthan, national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. PetroWorth’s chairman is Alan Graham, a former minister of natural resources and energy in New Brunswick and also the father of former premier Shawn Graham.”

In October 2010, the Council of Canadians expressed its opposition to the City of Moncton selling its drinking water for $1.58 a cubic metre to Apache Canada, a US-owned company, for their hydraulic fracturing testing in the Frederick Brook formation in the Elgin area in southern New Brunswick. As many as six to eight trucks a day were being filled with water and then driven 50 kilometres down Route 905 to a ‘lake’ that had been created to store the water for these operations. We opposed the sale of water and called for a debate at Moncton city council. By mid-November the sale of water to Apache had been ended.

The full Chronicle-Herald article can be read at Our media release is at Blogs on this issue can be read at