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WIN! Colchester rejects dumping frack-wastewater in their sewer system

In September 2012, we noted in a campaign blog a Halifax Media Co-op report that Colchester County Council had voted to “allow its municipal engineer to consider the Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) application to dump 4.5 million litres of ‘treated’ frack-wastewater down the Debert sewer system. The engineer’s recommendation, whatever it might be, can subsequently be opposed by council, and potentially reversed.” Later that month, we signed on to a submission by citizens and organizations to Colchester County Council expressing concern about the application from AIS.

But in March of this year, the Director of Public Works for Colchester County had granted approval for AIS to release the wastewater being held in storage lagoons in Debert (about 115 kilometres north of Halifax) into their municipal sewer system by May 26 pending a public hearing process. That discharged fracking wastewater would ultimately be released into the Chiganois River and impact communities along Cobequid Bay and the Bay of Fundy. So we continued our opposition to this threat.

By mid-April, the Truro Daily News reported, “The Council of Canadians and the Ecology Action Centre are included among approximately 30 individual appeals lodged with the County of Colchester over its decision to permit the discharge of frack wastewater into the municipal sewer system. …Atlantic regional organizer Angela Giles and water campaigner Emma Lui, who sent in the appeal on behalf of the Council of Canadians, said they have ‘grave concerns’ about the lack of baseline testing for other chemicals found in the fracking process including diesel, naphthalene, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, thiourea and benzyl chloride, some of which are carcinogens, hazardous air pollutants and on Environment Canada’s Toxic Substances List.”

Then in early-May, Angela, Emma, and Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow sent a letter to the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment Sterling Belliveau urging him to intervene and terminate Colchester County’s approval for AIS to discharge fracking wastewater into the Chiganois River.

Last week, Angela presented at a public hearing chaired by the Sewer Use Appeal Committee of Colchester Municipal Council.

And earlier this week, we helped to facilitate an open letter from U.S. organizations Food and Water Watch and Sierra Club Maine to the Sewer Use Appeals Committee expressing concern over the approval of the discharge of fracking wastewater. Emma noted, “The concerns expressed by these U.S. groups highlight how wide-ranging and serious this decision is. The potential for contamination of communities’ waterways does not stop at municipal, provincial or even national borders.”

Tonight, Angela shared the news of the decision by the Sewer Use Appeals Committee. In a media release they state, “The Sewer Use Appeals Committee for the Municipality of Colchester unanimously decides to overturn the March 2013 decision of the Director of Public Works to allow the discharge of 4.5 million litres of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater into the sewer systems of Colchester County.”

Congratulations to Emma, Angela and everyone who worked so hard for this win.

For more, please read:
NEWS: Colchester County, NS could accept fracking-polluted wastewater
NEWS: April 10 deadline for comments on fracking wastewater plan in Colchester County, Nova Scotia
Council of Canadians joins opposition to Colchester County’s approval of fracking wastewater discharge
NEWS: Council of Canadians opposes Colchester fracking wastewater plan
Colchester County hears appellants opposed to release of fracking waste
Council of Canadians urges Nova Scotia government to intervene in discharge of Colchester fracking wastewater
U.S. groups weigh in on Colchester fracking wastewater debate