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UPDATE: Inverness chapter condemns approval of oil/gas drilling by Lake Ainslie

This past April we noted in a campaign blog a Cape Breton Post news report saying, “(The Toronto-based oil and gas company) PetroWorth has applied for a permit to drill an exploratory 1,200-metre well in an area on the western side of Lake Ainslie just south of MacIsaac’s Point. (PetroWorth president Neal) Mednick has said his application does not include hydraulic fracturing, a technique which is also known as fracking. But he has not ruled it out at some point in the future, depending on if it is seen to be necessary, feasible and if it would be possible to get approval.”

Lake Ainslie is the largest freshwater lake in Nova Scotia and PetroWorth’s proposed drilling site lies within the Lake Ainslie watershed area, which feeds a number of other rivers including the historic Margaree River and its salmon spawning grounds.

In a media release issued today, the Inverness County Chapter of the Council of Canadians said it was “disappointed to learn that the Nova Scotia Department of Environment has approved PetroWorth Resources’ plans to drill a well for oil and gas right next to Lake Ainslie and downstream of the Margaree River. …In light of the massive public concerns in Inverness County over PetroWorth’s decision to drill, the COC is astounded by the Department of the Environment’s lack of transparency and poor communication. Residents only heard of the decision because of a PetroWorth statement to its investors! To date the Department of Environment has yet to issue a press release. And when it finally acknowledged the approval it was on a Friday afternoon, when few people would hear it, and almost no details were provided. …The Inverness COC remains concerned that PetroWorth will not rule out the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking).”

Chapter activist Thom Oommen says, “What criteria were used to assess and ultimately approve this test well on sensitive land? The Department of Environment has not disclosed its process. They haven’t even issued a press release. The Department of Environment and Minister Belliveau should be ashamed. They have failed in their duty to protect the largest fresh-water lake in Nova Scotia and the entire Margaree River watershed from reckless industry. It looks like citizens can’t count on their government to protect their environment.”

To read a series of Council of Canadians blogs on the Inverness chapter’s work to defend Lake Ainslie from fracking and oil/gas drilling, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=petroworth.