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Fracking Dam Safety

As reported by media, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a two part report on how fracking poses risks to BC Hydro’s Peace River dams. This report is based on “hundreds of emails, letters, memos and meeting notes released by the publicly-owned hydro utility in response to a freedom-of-information (FOI) request by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC office.” This report has many moving parts that reveal a wide range of problems, but it is very evident how self-interests were often served by the different parties at various times, and not the public interest. Who are the culprits? They range from BC Government Cabinet Ministers, the Oil and Gas Commission, and BC Hydro. In a nutshell, the conundrum they all found themselves in was caused by the gold rush mentality of shale gas and dreams of a LNG industry. The report puts it this way: “The government’s fire sale of subsurface rights had brought fracking to the doorstep of some of the most critical—and potentially vulnerable—hydroelectric dams in the province.” Essentially, the BC Government has literally ‘permitted’ the oil and gas sector to come into conflict with our hydroelectric interest. Now we have a conflict of Peace Region public safety versus provincial and corporate money. We must thank workers who did the right thing, and for old fashioned investigative reporting for shedding light on this situation, which it appears many in BC Hydro, the Oil and Gas Commission and the provincial government were all too happy to keep us in the dark about. And now that the damaging information is finally seeing the light of day we already see where our Minister of Energy has essentially dismissed concerns raised by this report, and our Minister of Public Safety and others are silent as I write this. Clearly, both the former and present BC Government has let us down on this issue. While this is a concern for all British Columbians, it is the people of the Peace Region who are most affected by this. Therefore, I strongly feel that our Peace Region politicians need to step up and put pressure on the BC Government to resolve this issue. Some of our local politicians may argue that this is not their jurisdiction, but I notice that has not stopped many of them from wading into other provincial matters such as forestry, caribou, or promoting LNG. Fort St. John has a mayor who was recently named “Energy Person of the Year”. Well, here is an energy issue on her doorstep. I encourage people to read the report and to voice their opinion. In our current climate of fake or “tribal” news sources, this report clearly lays out the timeline and content of communication that is indisputable. Based on their findings, here is what the CCPA is calling for: “Fracking should be immediately banned close to BC Hydro’s two existing Peace River dams as well as the Site C dam construction project until a full public inquiry determines whether a comprehensive ban is warranted. The CCPA is also calling for BC Hydro to conduct an immediate threat assessment at the Peace Canyon Dam and undertake all necessary seismic upgrades. It says the BC Utilities Commission should appoint supervisors or inspectors to address public safety and worker safety issues at the Peace Canyon and W.A.C. Bennett dams as well as at the Site C project, powers that it has under the provincial Utilities Commission Act.” Finally, I know some may find it surprising that I am writing a letter that does not mention Site C. Rest assured that this report does.

Regards, Ken Boon Bear Flat, BC

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