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Windsor council requests more info on fracking wastewater disposal

WINDSOR — Windsor’s town council is asking staff to research the latest information regarding the safe disposal of fracking wastewater. 

These signs of protest were on display at the July public information session on fracking in Windsor.

The topic was discussed at a committee of the whole meeting Dec. 9.

Coun. Laurie Murley said she recently read a letter in the provincial newspaper that suggested Windsor would be the ideal place to process the fracking wastewater from holding ponds in Kennetcook.

The letter, penned by Windsor-based environmental consultant Patrick Stewart, contends that Windsor’s large estuary coupled with Bay of Fundy tides would dilute the wastewater, while the town’s proximity to Kennetcook reduces the danger of spills and transportation costs.

“There’s been some changes since the last time that we put this through council to have some discussion on it and I really think that it is time that we look at it again and just have some really good, well informed discussion,” said Murley.

CAO Louis Coutinho reminded the committee that council passed a motion in October 2013 that, in summary, said no fracking water would be processed through the Town of Windsor’s wastewater treatment plant until there is extensive public consultation and a thorough understanding of the latest protocols regarding the best practices associated with the safe disposal of water through such facilities.

Murley stressed that she agrees there would have to be a public consultation process to gauge how the immediate community feels about the idea once the Town of Windsor has the latest information on the topic.

Murley said she wants to know specifics about the quality of the water requiring treatment, and the most current information regarding the proper ways to dispose of fracking wastewater.

“We need to have more information. We can’t just base it completely on emotion.

I want the science behind it — not the rhetoric. I want the science,” Murley said.

Coun. Scott Geddes said the health and safety of citizens is the top priority, but he feels there should be a community discussion if the science eventually shows the wastewater can be safely disposed of locally.

“This is a substantial amount of money that would make a significant difference in the community,” said Geddes, who noted that council also hears from citizens concerned about taxes and service levels.

Coun. Dave Seeley said he does not wish to discuss changes to the October 2013 motion at this time, but he “could live with” council seeking more information from Nova Scotia Environment.

Mayor Paul Beazley said he’d like to know how the provincial government intends to deal with the fracking waste.

“I’m just curious what that province’s game plan is,” he said.

Committee members agreed to ask staff to search for more information that will help council make fact-based decisions.

In response to public opinion, the Town of Amherst recently decided against disposing of fracking wastewater through its municipal sewage system.

“There are other municipalities interested in processing this water, but the politics of it has always discouraged them from proceeding,” said Coutinho.

Town of Windsor officials had some public opposition to contend with in 2012 when word spread that fracking wastewater, also known as brine water, was processed through Windsor’s wastewater treatment facility between March 2010 and August 2011.


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