The battle of the water in the gaspé

News 9 August, 2017
  • Carlos Espejo

    Bertrand Schepper

    Wednesday, 9 August 2017 11:12

    Wednesday, 9 August 2017 11:38

    Look at this article

    There are a little over a year ago, I had written a post about the oil Gastem who sued the municipality of Restigouche South-East. It had adopted a regulation to protect its water and that would have contravened the activities of the oil. I concluded my essay by stating that it was deplorable, I believe that the government Couillard does not interfere.

    While the struggle before the courts should start at the beginning of September and the mayor of the municipality, mr Boulay, has launched a new call for help in the hope to fund the defence of the municipality, it seems timely to revisit this issue which is too little addressed in the media in montreal.

    In reality, I was wrong, the government Couillard has a real involvement in the case. In effect, the government has introduced a regulation to protect Quebecers·e·s of potential oil spills in the drinking water sources used by municipalities. This last is called the Regulation on the levy and water protection (RPEP). The RPEP protects a territory of 500 meters (p. 32) between a wellhead and a site of water extraction, which is largely insufficient. In fact, when we think of a structure that extracts oil, we imagine a metallic structure worthy of the Wild american West with a pump that pulls the plain below it. In reality, the oil wells to hydraulic fracturing with horizontal as envisaged in the Gaspé peninsula are rather small structures with a rod that is deep underground, which can travel a distance of 2 to 3 kilometers away and in which it injects many of the chemicals used to extract oil by fracking.

    However, as underlined by the Agency, u.s. environmental protection agency (EPA) in December 2016, this method may contaminate the water. When there are cracks in the stems under the wells of the chemicals is discharged into the groundwater aquifers and underground pools of drinking water used by the municipality. According to an article in the World, of the 750 chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, 29 would be carcinogenic. In this situation, it is quite normal to want to ensure a healthy watershed protection municipal water. This is what Restigouche had made in its rules, adopted before the creation of the RPEP. Restigouche provided for protection of 2 km (9.1.1), which appears more reasonable. With its rules, which protects only 500 meters, the quebec government demonstrates that it has acted with incredible incompetence in this folder, or well, that he voluntarily created a settlement in favour of the oil companies in the face of municipalities, since restricting the distance to 500 metres, it promotes the establishment of the wells close to areas inhabited at the expense of the protection of the citizen·not·s.

    Personally, I favour the second option. It is this which is the reason why the minister Heurtel is trying to put a spoke in the wheels of the 275 municipalities that want to make the regulations more secure. Which means that the government has deliberately taken the municipalities and its inhabitants·e·s for idiots.

    Considering that, normally, the RPEP should be re-evaluated in a few weeks, it should expect that the issue will re-emerge. We can bet that municipalities will want to change the RPEP. Let’s hope that this time the debate will establish security standards for the protections of water. This, unfortunately, is unlikely considering that the government has started has injected millions of dollars in oil exploration in the Gaspé peninsula.