Fracking, landslide blamed for contamination of Northern B.C. creek ‘dead’

Betsy Trumpener
CBC News: October 25, 2015

A relentless landslide that’s contaminated a source of drinking water near a community in northeastern B.C. has residents blaming oil and gas exploration’s effects underground for causing the slide that’s contaminating the creek with silt and heavy metals.

Farmers and ranchers near Hudson’s Hope say they’ve lost their sole water source and blame landslides on changes to underground aquifers and land stability because of nearby fracking and the effect of two nearby hydro dams, but officials say there is no proof of this.

“I have no water,” said Rhee Simpson, who has lived and farmed along Brenot Creek for 62 years.

“You can’t play in it. You can’t fish in it. You can’t drink it. Your stock can’t drink it. Someone has to do something to get our water back.”

Brenot Creek has long carried clean water to families, crops and cattle near Hudson’s Hope in northeastern B.C. The creek is a tributary of Lynx Creek, whose water eventually flows into the nearby Peace River.

Last year, a landslide started oozing grey mud, filling the creek with silt and sand. Tests by the Ministry of the Environment showed dangerously high concentrations of heavy metals, including lead, barium, cadmium, and arsenic.

In September 2014, the District of Hudson’s Hope and Northern Health issued an advisory to stop using the creek’s water for drinking, stock watering or farm irrigation.

“Clean water is essential for life and all of us need to feel confident that the ground and surface water we all depend on is of good quality. We will continue to press for answers to how exotic metals came to be present in the groundwater,” Mayor Gwen Johansson wrote on the District of Hudson’s Hope website in January.

Since then, debris has continued to slide, filling the creek with heavy metal silts and sand.

The mayor said this summer there was so much heavy metal silt it created a visible debris plume and sandbar in the Peace River.

Johansson continues to search for answers as to why this is happening and who will pay for any clean-up.

“There’s a lot of vulnerabilities in this area as far as water is concerned.” she told CBC News. “It’s a real concern.”

In the past, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the region has triggered earthquakes. Fracking, is the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to break rock and free gas.

(read the full article at CBC)

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