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News archive for February 14, 2014

Fracking: ‘Don’t make a hasty decision’

“Courteously decline.”

By Ainslie Cruickshank on February 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

photo

Photo submitted

IDYLLIC LIFESTYLE – Diana Daunheimer and her family of four are organic farmers in Didsbury, Alta. the photo above is of their house. What are not shown are the six hydraulic fracturing wells on neighbouring properties, not 500 metres from their home. Left: DIANA DAUNHEIMER Right: INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBOURS – A sump at one of six hydraulic fracturing sites surrounding the Daunheimers’ property is tested. Photos courtesy DIANA DAUNHEIMER

“Courteously decline.”

“Give it another 10 years ... there’s a huge surplus in the system right now, so just sit on it for a little while, just sit and wait and see where we are impact-wise in another 10 years.”

Diana Daunheimer, an organic farmer and a mother of two, lives just west of Didsbury, Alta. on an 11-acre parcel of land.

There are six shale gas wells surrounding her property, not more than 500 metres away.

The first one was drilled in 2008, the last one just last year.

Her 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a benign but locally invasive tumor in her neck, when she was seven, and her six-year-old son suffers from chronic respiratory difficulties.

And now she’s warning Yukoners: “Don’t make a hasty decision.”

Daunheimer met with the Select Committee Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing during its fact-finding missing to Alberta last month.

She shared her experience living in close proximity to hydraulic fracturing wells, and offered the same cautions she’s giving to all Yukoners now.

“Wait and see the fallout from what’s happening in the United States and what’s going to happen south of you folks, and then if you still feel it’s an economically wise decision, then look at it,” she said.

Daunheimer can speak freely about her experience because none of the energy projects are on her property so she’s not subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

Earlier this week, she shared some of the most significant impacts her family has dealt with, things like poor air quality, contamination of water wells, light pollution, traffic and surface contamination.

In 2010, a sour crude well was drilled 300 metres south of her home.

The company did what’s called a propane fracture, she said, which uses a propane gel rather than a water based fracture fluid.

The company then did a well test and flaring that lasted for 19 days.

That well continued to vent sour gas for three years, unbeknownst to the family.

It wasn’t long after the construction of the sour crude well that Daunheimer’s daughter developed the tumor in her neck.

The family didn’t know about the level of carcinogenic material they were being exposed to, so it wasn’t considered during her diagnosis.

Now that she knows, however, Daunheimer has made appointments with a pediatric toxicologist for both her children, and has a few doctors lined up who are willing to review her daughter’s case.

“But the medical community is very reluctant to draw those lines,” Daunheimer said.

“Sulfur dioxide is known to cause the type of respiratory difficulties that we’ve been having, irritation, lots of sinus irritation, longstanding sinus colds ... when you look at the health data sheets of the substances that they’re using, the lights go off,” she said.

Her family was healthy, they’re organic farmers, they didn’t have health issues and then they popped up at the same time the industry did, Daunheimer noted.

In an open letter to Yukoners, she cautions against the myth that strong regulations can safeguard the territory.

“Alberta states with confidence that they have ‘world-class’ regulations, yet I have mountains of files that show each and every well near our home was non-compliant on several levels,” she writes.

Daunheimer told the Star she made her concerns known to the company about the air quality after the sour crude well went in.

Those concerns were never validated or recorded, which is “highly non-compliant,” she said.

And when she approached the Alberta regulator? She said she was treated like a “criminal” for reporting the company.

When the Alberta Energy Regulator eventually began an investigation and did an audit on the well, the company was given a non-compliance because the family wasn’t notified of the continued venting.

“They made them remove the venting tank and tie in that well so that those gases were mitigated and no longer venting,” Daunheimer said.

“Each and every time a well comes in, you’re inundated with diesel fumes, you’re inundated with fugitive emissions, from the drilling process, the flaring process,” she said.

Most of the wells near Daunheimer’s home were previously owned by Angle Energy Inc., but the company has since been bought out by Bellatrix Corp.

Daunheimer explained that because the company refused to engage with them about their concerns and they had difficulties dealing with the regulator as well, they decided their only option was to go to the courts.

“We feel so disappointed with the regulatory structure and culture that we feel we have no recourse but to circumvent their lack of protection and litigate against the company responsible for violating our fundamental rights of personal security and enjoyment of property,” she writes in her open letter.

“The only way to protect your family and land in the face of oil and gas exploration is to say NO! Insist your government find alternative methods of revenue generation and pursue renewable energy options that are not going to destroy the pristine ecosystem you currently enjoy,” she says.

Daunheimer sent her letter to the select committee last week. It has not yet been posted on the committee’s website.

The all-party committee was formed last May to gain a scientific understanding of the controversial practice and to make recommendations to the government about whether it should permit the practice for shale gas development in the territory.

Testimony from experts and comments from the public are available on the committee’s website at http://www.legassembly.gov.yk.ca/rbhf.html

See letters,.

CommentsAdd a comment

B. Foster

Feb 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Reading this article is kind of bittersweet in that it is heartening to see this woman share her experience (and stands to gain nothing by doing so) for our benefit / foresight but sad to see the battle that her and her family must endure simply to maintain their health and happiness.

I feel she has said a mouthful in that we should wait to develop this resource….if at all. The gas will not spoil, the case studies and historical evidence will only pile up and we will all be the safer and wiser for dragging our heels over this issue.

Any pushing or hurrying buy our government or the oil and gas industry should only be considered as behind the scenes deals having been struck or political agendas being fulfilled in my estimation (which really isn’t much of a one to be honest).

Very uplifting yet somewhat depressing article.

Thanks for this Diana…good luck to you and yours.

B. Foster

Feb 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Incidentally, google this woman’s name for more information regarding her plight / fight….this article only gives a smattering of the information available. Like this for instance.

http://www.dw.de/canadian-awaits-verdict-on-fracking-nightmare/a-17411547

bob wagner

Feb 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

Well, gee, gosh. Where are all the pro fracking bloggers comments about this women’s experience with fracking?

B. Foster

Feb 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

@bob

They’re lurking about clicking thumbs down on my posts….lol…and now yours too!

Virgil

Feb 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

If anything this article supports fracking in the Yukon. Why would you mine in an area inhabited by people when there is an abundant reserve in an area where light/noise/ traffic pollution wouldn’t be an issue?

B. Foster

Feb 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

@virgil
Wouldn’t be an issue for who? After all, it’s all about us bipeds right?

Werner Rhein

Feb 19, 2014 at 10:44 am

If anything this article is not the only case. there are tens of thousands of people affected by O&G production just in North America alone. But do to the lack of proper regulations and most important baseline environmental data the Industry is getting away with it by denying that any harm to the environment is happening. In all cases where people stand up and try to bring these criminals to justice (harming or destroying the environment, our livelihood) should be considered a criminal act, the Industry is offering the people settlements out of courts and then put gag orders on them. As they tried with Diana. (see Gasland 2 movie from Josh Fox).

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