(Canadian OH&S News)
The province of Nova Scotia is commissioning an independent review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing, the process of pumping fluid or gas down a well to fracture rock below ground and allow natural gas to escape.
Energy Minister Charlie Parker announced the review on Aug. 28, to be headed by Cape Breton University president Dr. David Wheeler. The review will include consultations with technical experts, interested parties and the public on the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking” in the oil and gas industry.
“We’ve heard from Nova Scotians that they want to have their say and that review should be independent of government; we’ve listened on both counts,” Parker said in a media release from the Department of Energy. “Dr. Wheeler brings an unparalleled background to this important topic and I’m very glad he has agreed to lead this review.”
Work expected to begin by early fall
The release said that Dr. Wheeler would be selecting members for the hydraulic fracturing advisory panel, which could include experts in fields ranging from oil and gas engineering to water quality and health to environmental planning. The panel may also seek input from other external experts and is expected to begin its work by early fall.
Dr. Wheeler said that he is pleased to establish what role, if any, fracking may play in Nova Scotia’s future energy security and what regulatory or social policies would facilitate or negate such developments. “Our panel will be rigorously independent and evidence-led, and I look forward to engaging with Nova Scotians again on setting the highest possible standards and ambitions for our province’s sustainable energy future,” he said in the media release.
The review comes a little more than two years after provincial staff began an internal fracking review in spring 2011, gathering industry best practices and identifying potential environmental issues and how they are managed elsewhere.
This work will be given to Dr. Wheeler, the media release added.
The study will be managed by the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia.