Fracking wastewater to be banned from municipal treatment systems

The New Brunswick government is taking steps to ban municipalities from disposing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

Province to introduce legislative changes to force industry to look elsewhere for wastewater disposal

The New Brunswick government is taking steps to ban municipalities from disposing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing announced Environment Minister Serge Roussel and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. 2:10

The New Brunswick government is taking steps to ban municipalities from disposing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

Environment Minister Serge Roussel and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet announced Monday the provincial government will introduce legislative amendments to enact the ban, which will also apply to regional municipalities, rural communities, wastewater commissions and the provincial government.

The change will also prevent wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in other jurisdictions from being imported into New Brunswick for disposal.

In 2014, Dieppe engaged in discussions with Atlantic Industrial Services of Debert, N.S., to take in 30 million litres of treated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations.

"This respects best practices on protecting public health, the environment and water, and it respects the the need to protect public infrastructure," said Doucet.

"This basically is taking the onus off the municipalities so it is not a situation where they are being approached."

Conservation Council of New Brunswick executive director Lois Corbett says New Brunswick is closing a loophole to prevent mining companies from disposing of waterwater from hydraulic fracturing in municipal treatment systems. 0:39
The New Brunswick government has an indefinite moratorium on allowing hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas. One of the conditions required for the lifting of the moratorium is there be a plan in place to treat wastewater from fracking sites.

"If industry wants to meet the conditions to lift the moratorium, they will need to find a different plan for wastewater disposal," said Doucet.

"The use of municipal sewage treatment plants to treat wastewater from hydraulic fracturing is no longer standard industry practice," he said. "The trend is to require industry to dispose of this wastewater without using public infrastructure."

Hydraulic fracturing is used to obtain shale gas by injecting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the Earth under high pressure to fracture shale rock formations to get access to natural gas that would otherwise not be accessible.

Lois Corbett, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomed the announcement.

"What New Brunswick is doing is … catching up with a few jurisdictions that have been good enough and wise enough to come forward and close an existing loophole," said Corbett. "And … modernizing their own legislation to ensure we keep toxic materials out of wastewater treatment and that means that's a good move."

With files from Joe McDonald