Protesters worried about the effects of fracking marched in the western city of Vancouver on May 23, 2014.

Protesters worried about the effects of fracking marched in the western city of Vancouver on May 23, 2014.
Photo Credit: Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press

Utility officials fear fracking will damage dams

Officials at western Canada’s BC Hydro worry that earthquakes caused by fracking may put large hydroelectric dams at risk, according to documents obtained through Access to Information law.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the practice of injecting fluid at high pressure deep underground to force out natural gas or methane. Critics say the process pollutes groundwater and causes earthquakes.

‘Immediate and future potential risks’

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives obtained emails from officials at British Columbia’s public power utility, reports Canadian Press (CP). In one missive from December 2009 Hydro safety officer Ray Stewart says “the utility believes fracking poses immediate and future potential risks to reservoir, dam and power generation infrastructure near the Peace Canyon Dam.”

Hydro says dams are strong

CP reports Hydro deputy executive Chris O’Riley said “dams are designed to withstand ground motions much larger and longer than those associated with fracking and new restrictions keep fracking operations at least five kilometres from Hydro facilities.”

That’s not good enough for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives analyst Ben Parfitt. He told CP those restrictions are little more than a gentleman’s agreement and he wants tougher rules on zones where fracking would be banned.

Categories: Environment, Society
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