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NEWS: Pirani calls for fracking moratorium as methane and water concerns grow

The Concordian reports that, “During the past year, Quebec’s quickly growing shale gas industry sparked heated debates about potential contamination of water. It wasn’t until last week that some new concerns over possible effects on the atmosphere came to light. In December, Quebec’s Department of Natural Resources inspected 31 of the province’s brand new gas wells and found that 19 of these were leaking. The information was not released until the public watchdog agency, the bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement, made repeated requests to view the results of the inspection.”

“According to Stephane Perrault (a Quebec spokesperson for Talisman Energy), the emissions are 96 per cent methane, a non-toxic but highly flammable greenhouse gas. …Judith Patterson, an associate professor of geology at Concordia who specializes in the impact of fossil fuels on the atmosphere, …said the global warming potential of methane is 21 times that of carbon dioxide. …She added that leaks at the top of the well suggest that leaks beneath the surface are likely, which could lead to water contamination. With an EPA report on shale gas and water set to come out this year in the U.S., Patterson recommends waiting for these results before the industry proceeds.”

“Abdul Pirani is President of the Montreal chapter of the Council of Canadians, a group that is pushing for a moratorium on the industry until potential consequences like these are addressed. ‘We are not against shale gas exploration,’ said Pirani. ‘It is good for business. But first and foremost, it has to be safe. Safe for the people and safe for the environment.’ Most Quebecers agree. A Leger Marketing poll conducted in 2010 showed that 76 per cent of the province’s residents want to suspend operations until impact studies are complete.”

To read the Montreal Gazette report on the leaking wells, please go to http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Natural+leaks+from+wells+cause+concern+officials/4065917/story.html. Although it highlights that the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources says there is ‘no cause for concern’ with this, the article does note that, “Some studies have found that when the impacts of methane leaks and other emissions from shale gas exploitation are included in the tally, shale gas produces more greenhouse gas than coal and fuel oil. There are also concerns about water contamination, over consumption of water, and noise from drilling.”

The Concordian article is at http://www.theconcordian.com/news/importance-of-shale-gas-leaks-debated-1.1837109.