Oil and Gas Exploration in Sackville Area- Aug. 2010

Sackville Council has reversed a decision they made last month to deny Petroworth Resources Incorporated, whose Chairman Alan Graham is the father of Premier Shawn Graham, the rights to conduct seismic testing on an 18 km tract of land within the town boundaries.
Sackville council voted 7 to 1 to allow the Toronto-based oil and gas exploration company to conduct seismic testing if they agree to some conditions, such as baseline testing on any private wells within 200 meres of the testing, exploration and/or drilling, a base line test on the municipal water system, the creation of a monitoring well uphill from the town wells for on-going testing, an independent bio-physical assessment of the entire municipality and the promise of some kind of economic or cultural support to the town from the company.
“I took leadership on this and I knew what it meant, what it would look l like, but we are the council and we are responsible”, says Tusz-King, who is also the local candidate for the Green Party, arguing that the municipal authorities have no say over resources that are under the surface, and that without a contract or any conditions, Petroworth would not be liable for any possible damage to the water table or wells.
Neal Mednick, President of Petroworth Resources, says that his company has decided not to do any seismic testing within the town’s boundaries, “the prevailing view is that if there is going to be this much controversy over an innocuous seismic program, then what is going to happen when we want to drill , let alone ‘frack’ a well”.
Mednick had no argument with the conditions saying that his company already had a policy regarding water well testing before and after seismic testing within 180 meters of any well, and that if they drilled on township property they would be happy to sit down and talk about ways to give back to the community.
“So, for the time being”, says Mednick, “let’s do the seismic on the other properties and if we drill a well and’ frack’ it, everyone can observe that we have done it very safely with no impact on the environment, then everybody will be more comfortable”.
“There is not one documented case of water contamination from ‘fracking’”, says Mednick, adding that they did three ‘fracks’ in a well just south of Moncton in 2008 and everything went fine. He believes the Department of Natural Resources should do an independent study on the process and show how it is done and how the ground water is protected.
Still, Tusz-King expressed concern over the unincorporated areas outside of Sackville, “They don’t have any collective means to say anything”. Stephen Werry, Secretary of the Baie Verte Local Service District Council, also expressed concern over possible future drilling. “The LSD council does not have any authority to do anything or to make any judgments or pronouncements, but when you give away your resources to the multinational corporations you have lost them forever”.
Individual land owners will get minimal payments from the company for surface access, says Werry, and the jobs created by the exploration and drilling would be short term and low paying. Werry also noted that it is difficult to prove that a company has caused damage to the water table, because there is “a long distance between the cup and the lip”.
“ I can understand that some people are adamantly opposed to oil and gas exploration, “ says Mednick, “because I think that people think that we are some big multinational conglomerate with billions of dollars to spend but we are a struggling little Junior (company) that needs some success”.

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