BC Study Finds Low Risk To Human Health From Oil & Gas Development
Prince George, BC – Four years after it was announced, the provincial government has released results of a study assessing the health risks association with oil and gas activity in Northeast BC.
The study was announced in direct response to a townhall meeting involving concerned landowners in the region and BC Premier Christy Clark, her ministers of Health, Energy and Mines, and Transportation. (click here, for previous story) Many of the residents had been galvanized by an explosion at an EnCana natural gas wellsite near Pouce Coupe in 2009.
Yesterday, Health Minister Terry Lake released the full report, saying, “After careful review and analysis, the study found that the risk to human health from emissions from oil and gas activities remains low.”
The study’s mandate was to assess health risks associated with the oil and gas industry in the region and provide recommendations to fill any knowledge gaps and manage risks. (click here, for full report) Among its 14 recommendations:
- the province’s ongoing air monitoring program in northeast BC continue (there are currently 10 ambient air monitoring stations to measure concentrations of sulphur dioxide and total reduced sulphur)
- the Province should explore tailoring its health surveillance to determine whether there are differences in disease rates in those areas identified in the study with the highest predicted air concentrations
- the Province consider refining its fracturing fluid disclosure process so designated authorities and health professionals can determine what’s in the fluid, without compromising confidential business information
- existing aquifer mapping be expanded to enhance the protection of groundwater resources
- additional study be done into groundwater and surface water interactions within shallow aquifers to better understand potential contaminant migration
According to the minister, the human health risk assessment found there is a low probability of adverse health effects from exposures to contaminants related to current industry activities. Conducted by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences Inc, project leader, Bart Koppe, says, “While we recognize that no report can be all things to all people, I feel confident that this study is a comprehensive analysis of the oil and gas industry in the Northeast, and British Columbians can be assured that we did not find any significant threats to human health.”
Peace River North MLA, Pat Pimm, says the government has fully reviewed the report, “And the data and information compiled will serve as a valuable baseline for monitoring the health effects of future development of natural gas and other resource activities in our region.”
“It will help us continue to protect our Peace country residents’ health and wellbeing while we grow our region and the province’s economic health through these carefully managed activities.”
Public information sessions to discuss the study’s results will begin on Tuesday evening (March 31st) in Fort St. John, between 6:30pm and 8:30pm at the Quality Inn. The Ministry of Health says additional sessions will be scheduled in the following months.