A southern Alberta woman is launching a $33-million lawsuit, claiming natural gas drilling is contaminating her water supply.
Jessica Ernst claims there is so much methane and other chemicals in her tap water she can light it on fire and that the province's regulators have turned a blind eye to the problem. Ernst lives in Rosebud, a small community about an hour and a half northeast of Calgary.
Ernst is a critic of hydraulic fracking, a natural gas drilling method that blasts water, chemicals and sand deep into the ground to break up coal formations. She says the province failed to impose any regulations on the oil industry and accuses Encana of using risky and experimental drilling methods in the area.
"We've been lied to about hydraulic fracturing. We've been told it was safe. We were told in my community it wasn't even happening," she said on Wednesday during a press conference.
Ernst is asking for more than $10 million each from Encana, the Alberta government, and the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which is the province's energy regulator.
A spokesman for Encana said the company isn't commenting since the matter is before the courts.
A 2008 Alberta Research Council Report concluded methane found in the wells in the area was occurring naturally.
In her statement of claim, filed at the Drumheller courthouse, Ernst blames "a government cover up of environmental contamination caused by the oil and gas industry."
Ernst says she is bringing her story to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York next week.