Kennetcook fracking wastewater might go to Amherst

Darrell Cole
Published on October 30, 2014

This sign is posted near one of the Triangle Petroleum Corporation’s former fracking sites in Kennetcook. The roadway to the site is blocked by a lock gate.

©Ashley Thompson

TC MEDIA - Amherst has entered into negotiations with Atlantic Industrial Services to accepted treated wastewater from its treatment facility in Debert for disposal in the town’s new $13-million wastewater facility on the marsh.

The treated water is from the oil and gas exploration that took place in 2007 and 2008 in Kennetcook.

“It’s fair to say that the acceptance of this product by municipally-owned facilities in Nova Scotia has been somewhat controversial. It’s important to note that with the reverse osmosis process another significant layer of process has been added to that which was the case when other municipalities declined to accept the product,” Amherst chief administrative officer Greg Herrett told town council Oct. 30 during a special meeting.

“We are confident that we have taken a businesslike approach to consideration of this significant opportunity for the Town of Amherst. It has been considered from a technical, financial and legal point of view. We have engaged experts in each of these fields to provide advice.”

After considering all aspects of what he calls a significant revenue opportunity, Herrett said staff is recommending council approve a letter of intent.

The water is to be treated for naturally-occurring radioactive materials and put through reverse osmosis at the Debert facility. The treated wastewater meets Canadian Council of Environment Ministers and Health Canada guidelines for release into fresh water and meets the requirements for discharge in the town wastewater discharge bylaw.

Herrett said the water the town accepts will meet Health Canada Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.

Former town engineer Ron Patterson has been providing advice to council and both he and Herrett visited the Kennetcook site and the Debert facility. The town also sought advice from Dillon Consulting, the company the designed and managed construction of the wastewater facility.

“They have assured us that the facility has the capacity to accept and dispose of this product,” Herrett said.

Herrett said the plan calls for the water to be treated in two million litre-batches, independently tested and then transported from Debert to Amherst in 30,000-litre truckloads. It will be disposed of through the town’s wastewater facility and immediately discharged without further treatment.

The town expects to receive $500,000 in compensation over the life of the two-year contract.

Coun. Terry Rhindress voted against the proposal.

“Other towns wouldn’t accept it so there has to be something about it that we’re not seeing,” he said. “There’s just something that I don’t like about this so I can’t support it.”

Deputy Mayor George Baker asked if the town will be able to have samples collected to guarantee the water has been fully treated. Herrett said the town will have the right to have a staff person on hand when the water is loaded in Debert and before it’s dumped into the treatment facility.

The CAO stressed the water will be fully treated before it leaves the Debert facility and there will be no additional treatment required at the Amherst facility.

“All we’re doing is discharging the wastewater through our system, it will already have been treated and there’ll be no requirement for us to do any additional treatment,” Herrett said. “It will be fully and completely treated and meet all the guidelines.”

Amherst is hosting an open house at the fire department Nov. 3 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The open house will feature information booths presented by the town, Atlantic Industrial Services and the Nova Scotia Environment Department.

Council is expected to consider formal approval of the contract at a special meeting on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.