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WIN! Board rules Husky Oil application must undergo an environmental assessment

NWT chapter

Council of Canadians and the NWT chapter in Yellowknife.

Last month, the Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter wrote to the Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board to ask it not to grant a five-year land use permit to Husky Oil to carry out exploratory drilling for silica in the Chedabucto Lake area on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake. The chapter asked the Board to refer Husky Oil’s application to an environmental assessment.

This evening CBC reports, “The Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board has decided that Husky Oil’s proposal to explore the North Arm area of Great Slave Lake for a type of sand used in fracking must undergo an environmental assessment. The board says Husky’s application to drill approximately 200 holes near a popular recreational area known as Whitebeach Point has generated widespread public concern.”

In its ruling dated Friday February 13, the Board noted the importance of the area to the Tlicho Government, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the North Slave Métis Alliance and “also cited concern from non-governmental organizations such as Alternatives North and the Council of Canadians.”

Peter Redvers, co-chair of the N.W.T. chapter of the Council of Canadians, says, “I think the board made a wise decision. One of the things we raised was that it’s a highly-used recreation area. It’s also a harvesting area for non-aboriginal hunters from Yellowknife as well as aboriginal first harvesters.”

To read the chapter’s letter to the Board, please click here.

The silica would be mined about 50 kilometres west of Yellowknife for the purpose of fracking in the NWT and possibly in other areas of western Canada. Silica is a hard mineral substance used to prop open underground fractures during the fracking process to enable the gas or oil to be released.

The CBC report adds, “[Husky’s] application to drill for silica will now be assessed by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. …The review board has up to nine months to conduct the environmental assessment, provided no public hearing is held. If there is a hearing, the board has up to 16 months.”

That means without a public hearing an environmental assessment would be completed by this November or by June 2016 if there are public hearings.

Husky Oil had hoped to begin drilling next month.

Further reading
NWT chapter opposes silica mining near Chedabucto Lake (January 2015 blog)