No fracking in Nova Scotia says Cumberland County council

Dave Mathieson
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Rookie county councilor Lynne Welton quoted many studies that say fracking for gas resources  is a threat to the well-being of humans.

UPPER NAPPAN - The Municipality of Cumberland Council met for the first time in 2013 during their bi-weekly meeting Wednesday afternoon in the county council chambers, and passed a motion banning fracking in Nova Scotia.

District 5 councilor, Lynne Welton, spoke for 10 minutes about her opposition to the practice of fracking, whereby gases are released from deep underground by cracking seams of shale rock.

"Millions of gallons of water are pumped into the shale and fractures the shale, and the gases escape to the surface," said Welton. "The companies say it's all very safe... but some of the gas escapes to the atmosphere and what is underground can get into our water supply."

Welton said fracking uses unknown chemicals and companies refuse to identify what chemicals are used.

"I asked an employee who works in this industry and he said every employee is bound to secrecy, so that raises the red flags right there."

She also said fracking creates pools of sludge at ground level.

"They pump the sludge out but there is no treatment for it and you end up with something like the Sydney Tar Ponds, which I'm sure we don't want in Cumberland County."

Welton's district encompasses Malagash, Wallace and Fox Harb'r,

"This area has by far the highest assessment of any area in Cumberland County," said Welton. "If we allow this fracking to take place, and they are looking at doing it in Malagash and the North Shore area, if those people pull out of these homes, then where is the county tax rate going? If they can't use the water for drinking, swimming or washing their clothes, they're not going to stay."

Welton wants to see fracking stopped in its tracks before it even starts.

"The Dexter government put a two year hold on fracking but the two years is up in April," said Welton. "I am very much afraid that if we don't protest - they have a majority government and they can start issuing permits - they can ruin everything for our children and grandchildren.

After Welton tabled her fears, warden Keith Hunter said the county has, "no jurisdiction, all we can do is lobby."

Shelly Hoeg, executive assistant to the CAO, then told him "we cannot pass a law, we cannot control resource extraction. We can only put industrial zones to control that type of use."

Two avenues of protest were considered at the council meeting.

The first was for council to pass a motion banning fracking in Nova Scotia, and to send that motion, along with Weltons dissertation, to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

Hunter explained how the process works.

"The UNSM has a process called a ‘resolutions process,' and they collect resolutions from all the municipalities in the province, and then they decide if they are valid enough to present to the provincial government as a resolution from the UNSM," said Hunter. "It's voted upon at the annual general meeting in the fall, so they're representative of all municipalities."

Council then passed a motion to ban fracking in Nova Scotia.

The second form of protest discussed at the meeting was to hold political candidates feet to the fired during the next provincial election.

Hunter said people need to ask their candidates and the leaders of each party where they stand on the issue of fracking.

After the meeting Hunter said, "The information councilor Welton provided here today convinces me that I don't want to take a chance of having surface water contaminated (by fracking). We have enough water problems naturally in Cumberland County with minerals and salt that we don't need to add more problems on our own.



Organizations: Cumberland Council, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities

Geographic location: Cumberland County, UPPER NAPPAN, Nova Scotia North Shore

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