In BC, fracking happens closer to schools, homes

In BC, fracking happens closer to schools, homes

This school playground in Farmington, BC, sits a few hundred meters from a sour gas well (Damien Gillis)

Read this December 29 Vancouver Sun story from Stephen Hume on the revolving door between government and the shale gas industry that has left BC’s children and families more vulnerable to the risks of natural gas than people in other jurisdictions where fracking takes place.

In the summer of 2010, faced with increasing public concern about the proximity of natural gas wells producing “sour” hydrogen sulfide, the provincial government announced it was imposing setbacks and enhanced management zones of two kilometres around schools and community centres.

Instead, British Columbia wound up with regulations that permit sour gas wells and facilities as little as 100 metres away.

The city of Dallas, by comparison, recently imposed setbacks of more than 450 metres for gas wells adjacent to buildings within its city limits.

Sour gas is lethal after five minutes of exposure at doses as small as 800 parts per million and has killed 34 petroleum industry workers since 1983, so it’s not surprising that occupational safety agencies across Canada and the U.S. consider it a highly hazardous substance or that the province was concerned.