Fracking causes major earthquakes in British Columbia

Fracking protest in BCThe Council of Canadians has long opposed fracking.

Now the Globe and Mail reports, "At least two earthquakes in British Columbia over the past year – including one last week – are among the largest ever caused by natural gas fracking in North America and were both strong enough to force temporary shutdowns of operations."

The article adds, "Progress Energy, which is owned by Malaysia’s Petronas, paused its operations on Aug. 17 after an [4.6 magnitude] earthquake that occurred 114 kilometres from Fort St. John. The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission says hydraulic fracturing by the same company triggered a 4.4-magnitude earthquake that was felt in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in August, 2014."

Petronas plans to build its Pacific Northwest export LNG facility on Lelu Island on the BC coast. Its terminal could be operational by 2018 and would be serviced by the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline. The Lax Kw'alaams First Nation recently voted unanimously to reject a deal with the company despite being offered $1.15 billion for its approval. The chiefs of the Gitxsan house of Luutkudziiwus have also said that the pipeline cannot go through their territory.

Communities have also cited concerns about impacts on the Skeena River and salmon habitat in the watershed.

Andrew Nikiforuk recently commented, "Researchers do not know the full impact of the industry-caused shaking on aquifers or migrating gases in the earth due to limited monitoring. ...A recent presentation by Dan Walker, senior petroleum geologist for the BC Oil and Gas Commission, identified public safety, property damage, well bore integrity (the shaking can cause wells to leak methane) and aquifer contamination as genuine hazards from industry quakes."

Fracking has been linked to 231 earthquakes in northeastern British Columbia, as well as earthquakes in Alberta.

The Council of Canadians opposes fracking because of its high water use, its high carbon emissions, its impacts on human health, the disruption it causes to wildlife, and the danger it poses to groundwater and local drinking water. We are calling for a country-wide halt on fracking operations. For more on our campaign against fracking, please click here.

Further reading
Fracking could be related to 3.0 magnitude earthquake in Alberta (November 2014 blog)

Photo: In November 2013, activists set up a mock fracking rig on Premier Christy Clark’s lawn to bring attention to the risky practice.