Sunday, July 06, 2008

Coalbed methane discussions come to Prince Rupert

Last Thursday saw Shell Canada bring its information sessions to Prince Rupert, where the multi-national oil company explained its plans as far as the development of the Klappen coalbed methane program.

While Shell was busy trying to get its message across inside the Civic Centre, local opposition was being raised on the outside as Des Nobels, chairman of the Friends of Wild Salmon society was busy providing a contrarian opinion on the proposed development.

The Daily News featured details of the days developments with a front page story in Friday’s paper.

Environmentalist contends fish habitat under threat but frim defends its practices
By Carla Wintersgill
The Daily News
Friday, July 4, 2008.
Pages one and three

Shell Canada's public information meeting about its proposed Klappen coalbed methane program was met with some opposition yesterday.

Des Nobels, chairman of the Friends of Wild Salmon society stationed himself outside the civic centre where the meeting was being held to hand out information about some of the environmental affects he fears will take place.

"Our major concern is regards to contaminated groundwater and that contamination of groundwater to surface water and the effects on the marine environment and the fish and other wildlife in the environment," said Nobels. "This has happened elsewhere where coalbed methane extraction has taken place."

The Klappen area of the proposed wells is also known as the Sacred Headwaters and is located where three of the Northwest's most important rivers, the Skeena, the Nass and the Stikine, originate.

"This is an extremely sensitive area. It's ludicrous," said Nobels.

"We spend an inordinate amount of money and time protecting our watersheds and our drinking water from these particular types of events and here we are now proposing this sort of opportunity in the headwaters in three of B.C.'s largest salmon-producing waters. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

But according to Shell Canada representative Larry Lalonde, Nobels fears are unfounded.
"We know it won't have any effect on the fish because we won't be discharging the groundwater on the surface or any of the water of the streams or rivers," said Lalonde. "We'll be taking it to a disposal facility in Northeast B.C. which will then be deep-well injected below any type of fresh groundwater."

Lalonde said that Shell will be taking several protected measures to ensure that the groundwater remains uncontaminated as well as continually testing the environmental impacts on the surrounding region.

"We take a very regulated effort to protect that water," said Lalonde.

"Essentially, our commitment is that we will not discharge any water that is produced from coals into any streams, rivers or lades to ensure that fish are protected," said Lalonde.

For now, Shell is still trying to determine if water needs to be pumped out from the ground.

"We've done an environmental assessment of each drill location," said Lalonde. We also have plans to do ground-water sampling as we move on as well to make sure that there is no impact."

Lalonde and other Shell Canada representatives will be in the Eagle room of the civic centre from 2-8 p. m. today to offer information about the proposed project and answer questions from the community.

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