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Species Diversity and Resource Development in Alberta

Petition: No. 172

Issue(s): Biological diversity, fisheries, human health/environmental health, and natural resources

Petitioner(s): James Argo

Date Received: 15 June 2006

Status: Completed

Summary: The petition concerns alleged impacts of the oil and gas industry on species diversity and human health in the Little Bow River watershed and the Red Deer River area in Alberta. The petition focusses on the environmental and human health impact of wells and flaring from this industry. Residents of the area are concerned about impacts on birds and fish and their habitat. Some of the species in this area are identified under the Species at Risk Act and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada [2003-2006], Industry Canada, Justice Canada—Department of, Natural Resources Canada

Petition

June 13, 2006

Ms. Sheila Fraser
Auditor General of Canada
Mme. Johanne Gelinas
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
240 Sparks St.
Ottawa, ON
K1A0G6

Re: Loss of Species Diversity in Alberta and Resource Development

Dear Mme. Gelinas and Ms. Fraser:

I have been asked by resident A and resident B, of Vulcan AB, to prepare a petition to you about their concerns for species diversity in the Little Bow River watershed in relation to the surrounding oil/gas industry. I have also been asked by [names and information withheld], to prepare a petition to you about their concerns for the fish in the Red Deer River also in relation to the proximity of the surrounding oil/gas industry. Both petitions describe concerns over the loss of species diversity. Since both these petitions involve essentially similar observations and concerns I will, with your permission, present them as one. I will endeavor to clarify the nature and type of chemical contamination in proximity to the two rivers arising from oil/gas development and operations.

The families
Resident A have land south-west of Vulcan AB, (south-east of Calgary), [withheld information]. The Little Bow River trends north-west to south-east over this same area and passes through their land a few hundred meters from the house.

[names and information withheld] AB, approximately due west of Red Deer, AB. They are [names and information withheld], in a wooded grove about 30+m above the river looking up-slope to the heights of the foothills. The river is broad and fast flowing—with oil wells dotting the water surface and scattered along the flood plain of the river. During flooding last year the wells were inundated by the high water. Contamination was easily visible.

There are many wells on adjacent up-gradient land to the west, south-west and north and several pipelines cross the river here to the [name withheld]. They are surrounded by gas processing plants around the horizon at distances up to ~15km. The Shell Caroline Gas Plant is on the highest land in Alberta about 1000m above the river and about 15+km distant from them. The flare is easily visible at night.

Their concern is for the Sturgeon species that used to spawn in the Red Deer River and that the species appears to have been extirpated from the Red Deer River.

Both families provided hand-drawn maps showing the extent of oil and gas development in the immediate vicinity of the Little Bow River and the Red Deer River on or [information withheld]. The maps show oil and gas development are taking place close to or in the rivers, potentially allowing both development and flaring chemicals into the bio-sphere including the rivers. Oil and gas development includes the development and recovery of coal bed methane (CBM), as well as oil, gas, and condensate wells and the infrastructure of batteries, pipelines, gas plants and sulfur recovery plants. The term bio-sphere as used here will include any species that live in, reproduce in and depend on the air water and soil.

The Rivers
When a river runs dry, from over-use of the water, from climate change or any combination of other factors it presents a looming ecological catastrophe. The river has been a biosphere, housing, supporting, sheltering a diverse ecology within it's nourishing watershed valley. The river is on a course toward extinction and the fate of the watershed is potentially directed to the same end. In much of the world the end result would be desertification. When the Little Bow River ran dry, the ecological catastrophe for the bio-sphere was averted by abstracting from the Highwood River, rising further into the foothills and running roughly north-east toward the Sheep River, enough water to satisfy the needs of the bio-sphere along the length of the Little Bow.

The Little Bow River abstracts from the Highwood River in the vicinity of the town of High River and trends southeast into Travers Reservoir formed by dams to control the flow. Any fish in the river upstream of the dam that formerly spawned adapted to the changed conditions or were extirpated. Sturgeon have been reported in the Reservoir. The fish in the Little Bow reported by Resident A are bull trout, brown trout, perch, whitefish, sucker, northern pike. The Little Bow River joins the Oldman River east of Picture Butte and south of the hamlet of Turin. For most of this path the Little Bow is a winding sinuous wet-ness typical of prairie rivers flowing in a broad flat valley.

The Red Deer River rises in the mountains northeast of Lake Louise near Mount McBride. It trends generally northeast to about Red Deer thence southeast to join the South Saskatchewan River inside Saskatchewan near Estuary. In the vicinity of Sundre the Red Deer River valley is broad and flat with a base of water-washed gravel, islands of vegetation and the river flowing rapidly over a sinuous path perhaps 20 m across. With each flood new channels form and old ones disappear. The Red Deer River flows past Drumheller where it cuts through the ancient cliffs with their layers of fossil records.

To document the concerns of both families for the Rivers and the biosphere they contain and nurture it is necessary to understand the nature and type of chemical contamination in the surrounding lands adjacent to or in the water. The chemical contamination comes from oil/gas resource exploitation, drilling, flaring and incineration within the network of wells, batteries, pipelines, gas plants and sulfur recovery plants.

Species of Concern
There are three species of concern, one fish and two birds identified as species at risk in the Federal SARA legislation. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have identified that the Red Deer River was used to migrate to spawn or to spawn, by Lake Sturgeon, Aciper fulvescens.

Western populations of the Lake Sturgeon Aciper fulvescens are listed as Endangered in 2005. Lake Sturgeon were last examined in May 2005 and their status criteria is A2b.1 The Western Canadian populations have experienced an overall decline estimated to be 77 percent in the latter decades of the 20th century due to exploitation, habitat loss and degradation due to dams, impoundments and changes in patterns of water use. The species was considered a single unit and designated Not at Risk in April 1986. They are found in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. [name and information withheld] reports that he saw them many years ago in the Red Deer River when he was young. Lake Sturgeon have been anecdotally reported in Travers Reservoir to the east of Vulcan, part of the Little Bow watershed.

The Piping Plover Charadrius melodus circumcinctus is endangered on schedule 1 of SARA.2 The Piping Plover is a small thrush sized shorebird that blends well into its setting. It is primarily the color of dry sand but has distinctive black markings, a white rump and bright orange legs. The short, stout bill is orange with a black tip and becomes black in winter. In Canada the circumcinctus subspecies breeds in central Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba. The numbers are decreasing everywhere. They nest just above the high water mark in exposed sandy or gravelly beaches. On the Prairies nesting occurs on gravel shores of shallow, saline lakes and on sandy shores of larger lakes. Seeps also provide important foraging habitat. The western edge of the Canadian range includes the valley of the Highwood River, the Little Bow River watershed and the downstream watershed of the Red Deer River possibly as far west as Sundre.

The most important limiting factor for this species is loss of habitat due to human use of beaches and the disturbance of nesting sites. An extensive review of historical habitat used by Piping Plovers in Alberta identified over 75 lakes, including 45 lakes with confirmed nesting. Plovers are wading birds,3 more compact than most sandpipers foraging for small marine life, insects and some vegetable matter. Any activity which disturbs the diversity and viability of the lower Orders, (Insecta etc.) will directly impact the higher orders that feed on them including Plovers. The presence of oil/gas development in the flood plains of the Rivers and the intermittent release of petroleum contamination cannot bode well for the longevity or ecological health of of Charadrius melodus circumcinctus.

The Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia is endangered on Schedule 1 of SARA4 and endangered at the last assessment of COSEWIC April 2006.5 The Burrowing owl, is a greyish-brown round-headed owl lacking ear tufts. It has long slim legs a short tail and is about the size of a pigeon. The adults have a white abdomen with brown bars that are lacking on the young. The Burrowing owl is active by day and night and may be seen standing erect on the ground, though its small size and earth-coloured plumage make it difficult to detect.

The Canadian population occurs mostly in a belt from Regina SK to Lethbridge AB and infrequently in the BC interior. It's range includes the valley of the Little Bow River. Historically the species occurred east to Winnipeg, west to Calgary and north to Dauphin, Prince Albert and Witaskiwin. The Canadian population has always been limited by the extent of grasslands. Over 75 percent of the prairies has been cultivated and much of the remaining grasslands have been altered by other human activities including but not limited to resource development. An estimated 2000 pairs occurred in Canada in 1977 with about 600 in Alberta. That fell to an estimated 1685 to 1010 pairs in 1995. There are now less than 1000 breeding pairs in Canada.

The Burrowing owl requires treeless plains free of visual obstruction. It uses burrows abandoned by ground-dwelling mammals for nesting, roosting and catching food. The owls need a mosaic of grass densities to successfully breed. The availability of burrows is essential for nesting sites, shelter from rain, wind, sun and predatory hawks. Cultivation of pastures and extermination of ground squirrels have combined the reduce the number of suitable burrows. The use of chemical pesticides have reduced insect populations, an important food source.

Extensive work has been done to reduce the impact of well-site and pipeline construction on Burrowing Owls. This has resulted in the development of guidelines for the petroleum industry that detail how to minimize the impact of activities that affect Burrowing owls and other species at risk. It is unclear if the diversity of chemical products outlined in this work were known at the time of their formulation. Guidelines are un-enforcable and solely a tool for moral suasion

Because the Burrowing owl is not under pre-existing federal jurisdiction the prohibition on damaging altering or affecting residences is only automatically in effect on federal lands on which the species occurs. SARA contains a provision to prohibit the destruction of non-federal species residences on provincial, territorial, and private lands by way of an Order by the Governor in Council (GIC) if the Minister of Environment recommends in necessary to do so [s34(2),35(2)]. Unless such an Order is made responsibility for this species remains with the Province and Territories.

The COSEWIC Candidate List contains species which have not yet been assessed but have been identified as potentially at risk. It is in three groups. Group one contains species of highest priority for assessment by COSEWIC and includes species that are believed at high risk of extirpation in Canada. Groups 2 and 3 contain species with progressively lower priority for assessment.

The Candidate list of Alberta fishes includes the Pygmy Whitefish Prosopium coulterii, in the first group of high priority candidates. In the second group the Brassy Minnow Hybognathus hankinsonii, the River Shiner Notropis blennius, the Stonecat Noturus flavus, the Northern Redbelly Dace Phoxinus eos, and the Lake Trout, Salvelinus namaycush . The Lake Trout is recognized as being in particular peril in Alberta. Low priority candidates include the Arctic Grayling Thymallus arcticus (Beringian, Nahanni and Missouri forms) paradoxically indicated to be in particular peril in Alberta.

It is probably not coincidental that several species of Trout appear in the lists following an assessment or as candidates. In toxicological studies of polluted effluents for human health studies all species of Trout are preferred because of their a much higher sensitivity to pollutants than other species and a consequently reduced tolerance to very low concentrations. Trout represent a preferred test species in all tests of water for human consumption.

Resource Recovery by Oil/Gas Industry - Drilling
[information withheld] provided a Supplement 6 (henceforth the Supplement) to the March 2006 issue, the [information withheld]. It is single sheet ~27"x38" printed one side listing of the chemical products used in the oil/gas drilling industry. I provided with this submission 9 black and white copies from the Supplement*. Color in the image does not convey any additional information. It is provided to place on record the categories of chemical agents that are used in Western Canada and particularly Alberta to develop new oil/gas wells. Products appearing for the first time this year, 2006, appear in a fainter grey. Our over-arching concern is that the use of these products in the workplace of a new well in Alberta lead to their being introduced into the Alberta portion of the Canadian environment.

Table 1
Categories of Chemical Agents used as Drilling Fluids

Air/oil/T

Category

Air/oil/T

Category

Air/oil/T

Category

2/6/12

Alkalinity pH Control *

0/0/50

Flocculants *

22/33/144

Viscosifiers

5/0/14

Bactericides

14/2/17

Foaming Agents *

5/19/21

Weighting materials

2/0/3

Calcium removers *

2/56/91

Lost circulation material

0/0/5

Polymer Stabilizers

24/7/48

Corrosion Inhibitors

7/17/53

Lubricants

0/11/12

Drill Mud Base Fluids

12/2/29

Defoamers *

11/11/97

Shale Control Inhibitors

0/0/12

Polymer breakers

0/30/47

Emulsifiers *

18/20/55

Surface Active Agents *

4/13/48

Systems

14/20/112

Filtrate reducer

1/6/41

Thinners, Dispersants *

The Supplement describes the products in Table 1 according to their categories of physico-chemical action Table 1. To a chemist all of these are quite descriptive. Those marked with an *, deal with some aspect of colloid chemistry and cleaning agents. The total number of chemical products in each category and the number intended for use in "oil-based muds" and "air-mists" are in Table 1. The editors acknowledge that the chemicals will have a primary function and potentially many secondary functions. These are all in the Supplement** and have the inevitable consequence of multiple counting making the apparent totals in Table 1 inaccurate.

Information appears to the left of each category in Table 1 below the heading "Air/oil/T". The first number is the number of products operating in a category formulated for use in "air-mists", the second the number formulated for use in "oil-based mud" and the third the total number of products in the Category. Both the terms in quotations, (air-mist and oil-based mud) may require other chemicals to form the "mud" or "mist".

Commercial products are chemical mixtures to do a particular task. A commercial chemical mixture will contain several common chemicals identifiable under WHMIS and other proprietary chemicals that give the mixture its value. Our experience in the development of WHMIS is that these proprietary substances must be identified to HMIRC, the Hazardous Materials Information Commission. The WHMIS procedure requires that all non-proprietary components of a commercial product used in a workplace are declared in a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). In the case of a chemical never before used within the geogrgraphic region called Canada, the substance is called a New Chemical and follows cradle-to-grave provisions of CEPA. Chemicals that are not New Chemicals are regulated under several Acts including WHMIS.

Developers of commercial chemicals for the oil/gas industry have special needs to fulfill including the ability of a mixture to operate under extremes of pressure and temperature. It is not an under-statement to advise that these chemical products must work - and to do so they may be extremely effective chemical agents. The Supplement documents mixtures intended to act in a physico-chemical manner that alter the way one substance encounters another, viz. oil-rock-metal. Chemical mixtures can and often do, contain an excess of the original reactants.

The difference between the last number and the first two in Table 1 indicates the number of products in each category of the Supplement formulated for use in water. This appears in Table 2 under the heading Water: Air together with the number of products formulated for use in air in Table 1

Table 2
Categories of Drilling Agents Designed for use in Water or Air

Water: Air

Category

Water: Air

Category

Water: Air

Category

4/2

Alkalinity pH Control *

50/0

Flocculants *

89/22

Viscosifiers

9/5

Bactericides

1/14

Foaming Agents *

3/5

Weighting materials

1/2

Calcium removers *

33/2

Lost circulation material

5/0

Polymer Stabilisers

17/24

Corrosion Inhibitors

29/7

Lubricants

1/0

Drill Mud Base Fluids

15/12

Defoamers *

75/11

Shale Control Inhibitors

12/0

Polymer breakers

17/0

Emulsifiers *

17/18

Surface Active Agents *

31/4

Systems

78/14

Filtrate reducer

34/1

Thinners, Dispersants *

You will observe that this number is substantial in some categories, for instance corrosion inhibitors. There are 24 formulations for corrosion inhibitors as an "air-mist" and 17 formulations for corrosion inhibitors as water soluble mixtures. Corrosion Inhibitors are mentioned in Sec 116 CEPA

    a "water conditioner" means a substance that is intended to be used to treat water and includes water-softening chemicals, anti-scale chemicals and corrosion inhibitors.

The majority of the chemical products in the Supplement represent mixtures capable of separating oil from water and other products that naturally want to form a colloid. In this they are acting as cleaning products.

    Under Sec 116 CEPA a "cleaning product" means a phosphate compound or other substance that is intended to be used for cleaning purposes and includes laundry detergents, dishwashing compounds, metal cleaners, de-greasing compounds and household, commercial and industrial cleaners

Categories in Table 1 or 2 marked with a * have this function including laundry detergents, dishwashing compounds, metal cleaners, de-greasing compounds and household, commercial and industrial cleaners, all products that operate by colloidal action.

The Supplement indicates that some of the products formulated for use in water must have a dispersant present. That is, the active ingredient is a non-polar chemical that would not otherwise be soluble in water. Non-polar chemicals are soluble in non-polar organic solvents such as oil or benzene. Water is a polar solvent. A dispersant is a chemical that will help the chemicals to be distributed throughout the solvent, here water. Dispersants are one category in Table 1.

Point 1:

A substantial number of commercial chemical mixtures used in the Oil/Gas Industry in Alberta are formulated for use in water.

Point 2:

A smaller number of commercial chemical mixtures used in the Oil/gas industry in Alberta are formulated for use as acid mists.

The interaction of oil and water is a very common household phenomenon and illustrates the branch of chemical studies called colloid chemistry. Colloids can form in air or liquids when two or more immiscible substances are present together sometimes with a bridging compound that contains both polar and non-polar parts in the same molecule, a dispersant.

Colloid chemistry describes the interactions of a large variety of cleaning compounds including, soaps and detergents. Solutions of soap in water are routinely applied in horticulture for the treatment of plants with infestations of insects. They are frequently prescribed by [name and position withheld], during his Monday afternoon call-in show for the Eastern Ontario population. Soaps are poisonous to many arthropods. Arthropods as a class are a food for fish and birds.

Milk is a colloid with butter-fat forming very small "particles" called micelles surrounded by liquid that disperses light and makes the milk appear white. If there is more liquid (water) than oil the colloid will be an oil in water colloid. If some means is found to break the colloid, separating the butter-fat from the liquid, the mixture will break into two layers. For instance cold winter days when we were young and watched in fascination as the butter-fat rose out of the bottle. The top layer is the oil with lower density than the "water" below, which in the example is expanding as it freezes. Cold frozen water does not form a colloid.

Aerosols
Colloids that form in air are aerosols. Aerosols are ubiquitous but not always visible in ordinary light. A pair of orange-tinted sunglasses show them up quite nicely because the aerosols scatter sunlight in the blue. Aerosols often form in the presence of sulfate, (SO4=), oil and particulates formed in partial combustion, around Industry or Thermal Power generation. Aerosols are always present near sour gas flares where the combustion efficiency (see [name withheld] below) of about 50+percent allows substantial fuel to be present in the plume from the source.

The main characteristic of aerosols is their ability to travel vast distances. Aerosols released from the large stack of Inco at Sudbury have been identified in Texas at the mouth of the Mississippi River ~ 4000km from their origin. Aerosols from thermal generating stations commonly travel hundreds to thousands of kilometers (viz. Ohio Valley to Nova Scotia ~3000km).

Winter is the common Canadian experience. It is a common winter-driving experience to observe wind whipping snow off the drift on one side of the road, over the road in an arching plume to the field on the other side. You may observe next day that the surface of the field has been marked or disturbed several hundred meters into the field by the blowing snow. The extent depends on the wind speed and the height of the drift. That arching snow was a plume, behaving very much like a substance released by a man 6 feet tall from a can containing an aerosol under pressure.

A fine perfume may have 300 to 600 separate components in a finely balanced mixture of volatile chemicals. Who has not had the experience of smelling the fragrance from one patron in an auditorium? How quickly you become aware of concentrations that are among the smallest measurable, pg/m3.

The aerosols described in the Supplement as "air-gas mist" could easily travel several thousand meters depending on the conditions of entry into the atmosphere.

Point 3:

A commercial mixture in the Supplement formulated for "air gas mist" has a potential range from where it is released to where it comes to ground of several kms.

Point 4:

An aerosol will remain suspended until atmospheric conditions change, such as cooling when over water.

I have had the experience of standing in the field to the west of [name and information withheld] watching wisps of vapor descend the slopes to find the valleys that lead to the cooler, denser air over the river. From the Red Deer River to the first height of land is possibly 1.5km and I have observed this movement. I have observed the slower movement of mists from around the wells across the flatter terrain near Vulcan toward the cooler, denser mists that coat the river.

I do mean to suggest that in the course of developing an oil/gas/condensate well or source of coal bed methane (CBM) all or many of these categories of chemical mixtures in Tables 1/2 will potentially find use on, in, under, over or near the rivers in this petition. If the formulation is an aerosol it is common experience that confirms it could move toward the river. If the formulation is water based the same applies- it will move as a mist or vapor toward the river.

Our concern is that with a fragile bio-sphere the presence of very powerful chemical formulations added to the bio-sphere through intentional use in the oil/gas industry introduce unpredictable and potentially adverse effects. Birds, fish, flowers, butterflies, lichens and mosses are included under COSEWIC and or SARA as threatened and endangred inhabitants of the bio-sphere. Under the Fisheries Act

    Sec 34 (1) of the act states that a "deleterious substances means any substance that, if added to water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of the water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent the water.

Under the Fisheries Act Deposit means

    any discharging spraying, releasing, spilling, leaking, seeping, pouring, emitting, emptying, throwing, dumping or placing

Under the Fisheries Act Fish habitat means

    spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes.

Under the Fisheries Act

    Sec 35(1) of the Act states that no person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat

[name and information withheld] of the Red Deer River directly behind his home. It is difficult to believe that the placement of this well could not have directly infringed on any of the above clauses from the Fisheries Act. There are wells in the flood plane of the Red Deer River which flood every spring. Is it contempt or stupidity that impels the representative of the Alberta Energy Utility Board (AbEUB) or the Alberta Environment Dept (AbEnv) to say "There is no risk to human or animal health" when oil is floating around the base of the pump jack?

Sec. 44 (1) (b) of CEPA states that

    the Minister shall conduct research and studies regarding pollution prevention, the nature, transportation, dispersion, effects, control and abatement of pollution and the effects of pollution on environmental quality and provide advisory and technical services and information related to that research.

    Sec 44(1) (i) of CEPA defines environmental contamination arising from disturbances of ecosystems by human activities

Waste Disposal
The commercial chemical products in the Supplement, Table 1, Table 2 contain products usefully employed to develop oil/gas/condensate and CBM wells. The Supplement is silent on the fate of these products once they become waste and the fate of the excreta produced when they are mixed with rock cuttings, diesel, lubricants, old welding rods, chemical tailings, removed to form the well. It is a common experience I have had in Alberta to find a roaring fire beside a drill rig burning off organic materials disposed into a sump or flare pit. Toss in some diesel throw in a match and drive away. The only testimony is the column of black smoke. This and other equally egregious environmental insults were supposed to have been stopped by self-regulatory hand of the Alberta Energy Utilites Board (AbEUB) or Alberta Environment (AbEnv).

Recent research proves that this is a fiction. The Little Bow River basin close to Resident A is exploited by Exxon Resources in cooperation with Apache Resources as one of many. Enclosed with the photographs of the Little Bow are several showing the waste pits or sumps, some with fencing and others without, for a selection of wells in close proximity to the Little Bow River. Exxon has received regulatory approval to drill several wells from a pad to a certain depth. They turn around and allow Apache to use the pad to drill another well to a deeper depth and leave the waste from their original effort to collect with that of Apache.

This is the public face of Environmental Responsibility as practised by Federally registered companies (Exxon) when the local Regulator (AbEUB) insists on ignoring the obvious. Perhaps the Plover wins in the end. They can leave. This egregious insult to the Valley, the birds, the fish, the people does nothing but cheapen and demean the company and its executives. How can anyone expect a corporation with this type of environmental ethics to adhere to, much less even recognize, a guideline to protect the burrows of the Burrowing Owl.

An acre is 43,560 square feet, 1/160 of a township in Alberta, approximately 200 feet square. This corresponds approximately with the size and scale of a drill pad. The location of a well is established with a precision that defies logic in the LSD system of land division in Alberta. Would the well be moved by a corporation with these ethics if the well were within 20 feet of a burrow? What kind of mind considers that the pounding of a drill rig is not perceived within half or more miles? A mind in denial.

The only Federal legislation that applies to this kind of corporate insult is CEPA but that has so many "whys" and "wherefores" it is essentially toothless for enforcement. CEPA needs to be strengthened to make the minimum penalty conform to the environmental loss. An appropriate penalty for a species rendered extinct could be the loss of a Federal Charter to operate in Canada by the Corporation for a minimum period of five to ten lifetimes of the species rendered extinct. For a Grizzly bear with a lifetime of 15 years that could be substantial and very appropriate, but it will not bring back the species lost.

Oil, Gas, Condensate Flaring
Oil companies and the oil industry per se repeatedly tell us that there is no harm done by their activities, to humans, the biosphere or livestock. It is necessary to recognize they are biased. They characterise their actions as responsible and benign, harmless to residents and with risks only to workers immediately affected. Industry will tell investigators that no adverse human health effects are known and no adverse ecological effects are expected. This as an intellectual fraud. Their arguments ignore the impact of flaring as a broad, multi-facetted disturbance of the system of human activities for as much as 30 km from any flare. Publicly available peer-reviewed scientific literature supports the rebuttal.7

Flaring is ubiquitous when oil and gas operations take place. The economic importance of oil and gas means that industry is expanding rapidly to gain maximum economic impact. In Alberta in 1996 there were 1410 townships where flaring took place. There were in excess of 6,600 flare locations operating distributed over those townships. In excess of 13,726 million cubic meters of gas was flared in Alberta in 1996. The Industry flared on average about 96 percent of potential flaring capacity of 14,279 million m3/y. This has risen from about 2,500 thousand cubic meters per day in 1960.8 These statistics reflect the volumes sent to flare before coal bed methane development started in Alberta.

Table 3
On-Site characterisation of chemical emissions from the sweet gas flare
[name withheld] Table 33, Table 34, and Table 35 pg. 97,99,100
Liquid Fuel level 45 cm

On site
Characterization

Thermal Absorption
> 10 mg/m3

Solvent Extraction
> 10 mg/m3

Hydrogen

Pentane

Subst benzene

CO

3-penten-1-yne

Azulene

CO2

Benzene

Subst benzene

Carbon

1,5-hexadiyne

Naphthalene

Methane

Methyl benzene

2-methyl naphthalene

Ethylene

Ethyl benzene

1-methyl naphthalene

Acetylene

Ethynyl benzene

1,1'-biphenyl

Ethane

Ethenyl benzene

Biphenylene

C3 HC's

Benzaldehyde

1H phenalene

C4 HC's

Phenol

9H fluorene

Benzene

Naphthalene

Phenanthrene

Toluene

1,1'- biphenyl

Anthracene

Xylenes

Biphenylene

Fluoranthene

Styrene

Acenaphthalene

Pyrene

Ethynyl benzene

4-methyl; pyrene

Naphthalene

1 methyl pyrene

Other HC's

38 Other HC's

Benzo(ghi)fluoranthene

Efficiency ~60%

Cyclopenta(cd)-pyrene

Benz(a)-anthracene

48 Other HC's

Table 4
Emissions in the Downwind plume of a Waste gas Flare from a Sour Oilfield battery9
[name withheld] Table 37, 39, 40 pg. 100, 105,106

On-Site

Thermal Desorption

Solvent extraction

Hydrogen

Carbon Disulphide

Hexanoic acid, 2-ethyl

CO

Thiophene

Naphthalene

CO2

Benzene

Benzo[b]thiophene

Carbon

Methylbenzene

Benzoic acid

Methane

3-Methyl Thiophene

Benzo[b]thiophene, 4 methyl

Ethylene

Benzene-ethyl

Naphthalene, 2-methyl

Acetylene

Benzene, 1-3 dimethyl

Naphthalene, 1-methyl

Ethane

Benzene, ethynyl

Phthallic anhydride

C3 HC's

Benzene, ethenyl

1-1' Biphenyl

C4 HC's

Benzene, methoxy

Naphthalene, 1-ethyl

Benzene

2(5H)-thiophene

Thiophene, 2-phenyl

Toluene

2-Thiazolamine

Thiophene, 3-phenyl

Xylenes

Benzaldehyde

Naphthalene, 2,3 dimethyl

Styrene

Benzonitrile

Biphenylene

Ethynyl benzene

Bnezofuran

Dibenzofuran

Naphthalene

Decane

9H-fluorene

Other 'HC's

Phenol

Dibenzothiophene

Efficiency Carbon CP ~70%

Ethanone, 1-phenyl

Phenanthrene

Naphthalene

Sulphur (S8)

Sulphur Dioxide

Azulene

Fluoranthene

Hydrogen Sulphide

Benzo[b]thiophene

Pyrene

Carbonyl Sulphide

Naphthalene, 2-methyl

Chrysene

Carbon Disulphide

Naphthalene, 1-methyl

Benzo[a]pyrene

Other S

1,1' Biphenyl

Efficiency Sulphur CP

Dibenzothiophene

Since that time, about 2004–2006 (present) volumes sent to flare are estimated to have exceeded the 1966 maximum of 13,726 million cubic meters annually. There are about 100–150 chemicals created in oil/gas flaring.

There are three formats used to characterize the components of the flare, [name withheld] carried out on-site chemical characterization of emissions10 approximately 4-5 m downwind from the sweet gas flare. The chemicals produced in the sweet gas flare are in Table 3.

All the chemicals characterised on-site are included; all the chemicals characterised by thermal absorption and all the chemicals characterised by solvent extraction and present in amounts over 10 mg/m3 are included. Unspeciated chemicals are included in the term "Other HC's". In Table 3, we have not included the substituents for lack of space, indicating them with the abbreviation "subst".

In Table 4 chemicals in the downwind plume of a sour gas flare appear. Chemicals containing the term "thia" or "thio" are ones that contain sulfur as sulfide. Sulfides have very strong smells and frequently more toxicity than the associated carbon-only species. Hydrogen sulfide, the main component of sour gas is a neurotoxin, that exerts a toxic effect upon the central nervous system. A reference dose with no life-time risk has been assessed by EPA as 0.0015 ug/m3.11 The gas can be detected by smell at 0.007ug/m3. An annual average concentration of 0.004 ug/m3 is associated with spontaneous abortion for women in the first trimester.12 Hydrogen sulfide exerts its toxic effect by reducing the ability of the blood to oxygenate the cell, similar to cyanide.

It is important to realize that each flare will behave similarly to each other flare and they in turn with the small flares characterized by [name withheld]. If a flare is intended to burn a large amount of waste gas the volume of the combustion products will be larger. From the work of [name withheld] we can calculate the amount of each chemicals in Table 3 or Table 4 that should have appeared in any year when the total volume sent flare to is available.

This diversion into the arcane world of chemistry has been to adequately illustrate the extent that chemical products are present the bio-sphere of Alberta and by extension in the waters of the rivers that are described in this petition.

Incineration
Incineration is a process of combusting carbon based materials at a high temperature that if properly designed and operated will have a greater combustion efficiency the than the flare. Regulations in Alberta have always required a combustion efficiency to exceed 95 percent but until [name withheld] reported much lower measured results, no well or flare had ever been tested. Such is the confidence of the Regulator in the Industry to self-regulate. A combustion efficiency of 60 percent means that 40 percent of the raw material sent to flare is released into the atmosphere unchanged together with the combustion products. Exposure then is to combustion products and fuel combined. Petroleum is kidney toxicant in humans. Incineration was proposed by the Regulator and Industry as a method to rectify this egregious environmental insult.

Incineration has replaced flaring in some places. Resident A has13 observed on numerous occasions incinerators operating with large amounts of black soot released. Black soot corresponds exactly with the carbon measured by [name withheld] in flares. It is a direct expression of the failure of the combustion process to oxidize matter. This demonstrates the incinerator is operating as a flare and is well below its temperature range. To understand this it must be realised that a flare does not operate continuously. The flare is a safety valve on the process operating at the installation. Sometimes the total volume will be directed to flare producing a colossal flame with black margins and long strings of flaming fuel. At other times the flare will have a much shorter flame, sometimes with black margins but much smaller. The flame may be obvious for tens of minutes.

An incinerator requires time to achieve the temperature where it can operate at high efficiency. During this time the incinerator operates with an efficiency as low as 60 percent, about like a flare. The time for this to happen will depend on the design of the incinerator but will be on the order of tens of minutes—about when the volume directed to flare is stopped.

An additional quirk has just been supplied by Resident A. She reported to us quite recently14 that an incinerator and a flare are installed at a new well owned by Encana Resources, located at [information withheld]. She hears the incinerator clicking, trying to ignite but it cannot. Both she and Resident B develop urinary tract inflammation at the same time when exposed to the same thing at the same time. Her physician advises that the well is causing the present inflammation. This would happen if the well were flowing nitrogen to prevent ignition to allow for venting. She has repeatedly asked the AbEUB and Encana to tell her what the well is intended for, but has failed to get any answer. Rational thoughts notwithstanding, it seems like an expensive and annoying toy. Only the [position withheld] can answer that question.

Burning organic matter in the presence of chloride will generate a class of compounds called Dioxins (and Furans). These consist of two benzene rings made rigid by fusing with oxygen and having up to 8 chlorine atoms distributed around the rings. Common salt is present in Produce water (old salt water) obtained from a well and can enter the flare or incinerator. Dioxins to form whenever organic matter is burned in the presence of chloride such as common salt.15 At high temperature incinerators can destroy dioxins: at low temperatures they generate more than are introduced.16

At doses of approximately 5-35 pg/kg-bw/d Dioxins act by impairing the ability of a species to reproduce. The units are picograms of dioxin per kilogram body weight per day. A picogram (pg) is 1 millionth of a microgram. The reference dose of dioxins is ~1 pg/kg-bw/d.17 In humans this is manifested by a change in the sex ratio, M/(M+F), usually 0.51. When there are fewer males the ratio declines below 0.5, described as "inverted", with more females than males. It is relevant that the Census of 199118 shows that in every CD in Alberta the sex ratio is inverted with ratios as low as 0.41. This means that, in respect to humans, dioxins exposure is widespread.19 In Alberta the major sources of dioxins is upstream oil/gas operations, refineries and coal-fired thermal generating stations.

Dioxins affect the reproductive system of a great many species. In animals and fish it is manifested in bizarre sexual dimorphisms. For about 20-30 years observations in the Great Lakes have shown that amphibians, fish and other species in the bio-sphere have shown bizarre transmogrifications of sex organs. Frequently males lose their primary male characteristic and develop secondary female characteristics including womb. Since the first observations, widespread high quality investigation has uncovered the mechanisms for these transformations. All are Dioxin related.

Dioxins will only disintegrate in an incinerator at temperatures of 1300+ deg C and residence times of 2-10 seconds. The CCME Canada Wide Standard (CWS) for Dioxin is 80 pg/m3, and is probably not protective of human health. It is not risk based. A stack 30m high from an incinerator combusting dioxins at a feed rate of 10 ug/s will produce a plume with a ground level concentration of ~87.5 pg/m3 at a distance of ~500m. The concern of Resident A is that these chemicals will affect the ability of the endangered species to reproduce. The CWS guideline for Dioxins will lead to a dose of about 26 pg/kg/d in a 70kg adult male.20 The reference dose RfD for dioxin, the level with no life time exposure risk is 1-3 pg/kg-bw/d. Dioxins will generate adverse effects at background concentrations and toxic effects after longer exposure times. Dioxins have been classified by IARC as human carcinogens in 1995.

Dioxins are extremely powerful endocrine disrupters, a term that means they can severely disrupt normal functioning of the reproductive system in a species.21 The census data in Alberta and the inverted sex ratio has demonstrated this. It is inconceivable that dioxins in the air would affect people while missing the river beside which they live and work. How could that be done without some of the dioxins entering the river.

On the topic of Hormone Disrupting Substances Sec 44 (4) CEPA the Act says

    the Minister shall conduct research or studies relating to hormone disrupting substances, methods related to their detection, methods to determine their actual or likely short-term or long-term effect on the environment and human health and preventative, control and abatement measures to deal with those substances to protect the environment and human health.

The Act says Sec 46 (1) CEPA

    The Minister may, for the purposes of conducting research create an inventory of data… including information regarding the following.

    Sec 46(1) (g) substances or fuels that may contribute significantly to air pollution.
    Sec 46(1) (h) substances that, if released into Canadian waters cause or may cause damage to fish or their habitat.
    Sec 46 (1) (I) substances that if released into areas of Canada where there are migratory birds, endangered species or other wildlife regulated under any Act of Parliament are harmful or capable of causing harm to those birds, species or wildlife.

A vast amount of human activity is directed to understand what is safe for the human in a world containing our detritus. Here we have shown that limits can be established for human exposure but these same limits cannot be established with anything approaching the same assurance for animals, plants, birds, insects etc. In fact we use animals (rats, mice) and fish (guppy, trout, perch) to assess if the water or air is safe for humans. In any situation of this sort we have recourse to the Precautionary principle which appears in the preamble to CEPA

    Wheras the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the precautionary principle that, where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation

The socio-demographic evidence of the sex ratio, medical geographic evidence of elevated cancer rates, elevated diabetes rates, elevate heart disease rate and elevate kidney disease rate, the physical evidence of the flares, the chemical evidence of the synthesis, the extirpation of fish diversity in the rivers, the warnings in the Alberta Fish regulations, that include the Red Deer River, all together point in one direction. In the context of the Precautionary Principle dioxins released from oil/gas operations into the biosphere affect human life and all life in the biosphere in Alberta.

The recent history of Alberta is one where rational people act irrationally, pushed too far by the intransigence of Regulators to regulate for all and greed of the Industry. For one brief quantum of time, they act beyond the Law. These are individuals faced with routine daily transgressions by Industry and the Regulator acting above the Law. During recent work in Sydney NS, the [position withheld] testified before the Joint Panel Review.22 He referred to the social stress induced within a community by conflict between "camps" and the adverse effect this has when prolonged, on the physical health of the community. Lies and deceits are the two worst, most pervasive, social stressors encountered.

Chemical sensitivity
The following deals with the etiology of chemical sensitivity and is taken from a report prepared by the present author for presentation to a Hearing into the development of Off-Shore Oil/Gas Resource in Nova Scotia 2001. It is presented here because the presence of chemical sensitivity is a direct result of low level air-borne chemical emissions in a population. Resident A, Resident B and [name withheld] have all been rendered chemically sensitive by initial exposure to a large dose of flaring-produced chemicals followed by intermittent as-the-wind-blows chronic exposure.

Resident A and Resident B were both gassed when a sour well [information withheld] unexpectedly and with no prior warning "went to flare". This oil patch terminology means that the entire volume of the well instantaneously and without warning was directed to the flare. The combustion efficiency dropped precipitously and Resident A and Resident B were inundated with raw sour fuel and huge amounts of sour partial combustion products and combustion products. They lost consciousness and have since developed an exceptionally heightened chemical sensitivity, in addition to MS, which is probably associated with the traumatic stress of being gassed.23

[name withheld] was about 1/4 mile from home when he drove through an invisible cloud of sour gas that entered his truck cab and he instantaneously lost consciousness. He has subsequently developed a heightened chemical sensitivity to the emissions from the surrounding industry. Loss of consciousness is not a necessary precursor to enhanced chemical sensitivity. It indicates that their entire system has been overwhelmed by an exposure lasting moments. They have had years of exposure in a few seconds, and survived. The hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide (cf.Table 4, left column) present has in all likelihood caused the loss consciousness by precluding any access to oxygen.

The influence of xenobiotic chemicals on the human limbic system has been widely investigated. The limbic system is that portion of the brain that controls emotions and is strongly influenced by chemical pollutants. It includes the amygdala, the hypothalamus and several related centres. It is immediately behind the nose and in contact with the external world with a few olfactory nerve fibres from the olfactory bulb. These provide a potential single cell pathway to the CNS, The Hippocampus, the brain region most often associated with learning is only two synapses away from the interior of the nose. The possibility that inhaled toxicants have direct access to the CNS is a particularly frightening prospect.24

[name withheld] et.al.25 established that the answers to five questions are significantly associated with chemical sensitivity in an individual. The five question screen includes feeling ill from pesticides, from car exhaust, from drying paint, from new carpet, and from perfume.

Irritability, joint and muscle pain, daytime tiredness, constipation, indigestion, headaches, trouble sleeping at night, memory trouble, difficulty concentrating, daytime sleepiness or grogginess and ringing in the ears are all associated with feeling ill from smells. The more of these signs / symptoms that one can answer "yes" to, the greater is the individual's chemical sensitivity.

Sixty percent of 643 persons questioned reported feeling ill from one or more of the five chemical classes: 15 percent identified the smell of at least 4 chemicals as making them ill. Women tended to be more susceptible than men. Cacosmia, the syndrome of feeling ill from smells was defined by [name withheld].

Mainstream medical practitioners sometimes dismiss complaints of chemical sensitivity as "all in your head". The medical profession is moving, however glacially, to recognize the phenomenon and have developed criteria for chemical sensitivity. The criteria include:

  • the disorder is acquired in relation to some documentable exposure; symptoms include more than one organ system;
  • symptoms recur and abate in response to predictable stimuli;
  • symptoms are elicited by exposures to chemicals of diverse structural classes;
  • symptoms are elicited by exposures that are demonstrable though low;
  • exposures must be very low and no single widely used test of organ function can explain the symptoms.26
  • [name withheld] presented her work to a seminar of Health Canada personnel in Ottawa ~1995.

Chemical Sensitivity Genesis & Development
A great variety of hydrocarbons form in a flare (Table 3, Table 4) and the downwind plume will contain these, with particulates, excess fuel and potentially dioxins. If the gas flared is sour an even larger variety of sulfur containing hydrocarbons will be formed. These are particularly malodorous and noticeable at low level.

The level at which hydrocarbons are sensed by the body27 is much above an acceptable daily intake prepared in an ultra-conservative approach. If something is present but cannot be sensed by smell, the limbic system will nevertheless react, though the subject will not be initially aware of the reaction. This condition can be repeated over months or years, and, depending on the amount of material present, the receptor, "you", will hardly be aware that they have been reacting. With each cyclical repeat the organism reacts to progressively lower amounts of stimulus. This is very classical conditioning.

[name withheld] et.al. showed that the optimum conditions to induce chemical sensitization are cyclic "waves of stimulus". This corresponds exactly to a cyclical stimulus such as hydrocarbons from a flare carried by changing winds to a receptor. In the presence of malodorous hydrocarbons or sour gas flaring emissions the level can be below the threshold of smell until a large gust brings the concentration to a level of awareness with predictable consequences.

In the case under discussion in this petition, humans and their development of medical condition of chemical sensitivity are a monitor of the presence of chemicals in the bio-sphere in close proximity to the rivers and watersheds under discussion.

Coal Bed Methane (CBM)
Coal bed methane (CBM) is a resource that has quite recently experienced massive exploitation in Alberta. It was also the subject of a review in [information withheld] in Oct. 2005.28 A large fraction of Western Canada is underlain by huge amounts of coal, ranging from the high Sulfur lignite of Eastern Saskatchewan to the bituminous coals of Alberta and BC. As one moves across Canada the radioactivity associated with coal increases from zero in Nova Scotia to higher values in Alberta and BC.29 Radioactivity is commonly encountered in the oil patch but never recognized by Regulators publically.30

Recent high prices for oil and Natural gas have fuelled a bonanza of exploration in Alberta for the development of natural gas resources from underlying coal beds. This is coal bed methane. (CBM) Methane and other low molecular weight gases have been generated from the coal over eons of geological time, together with a great variety of other organic chemicals and hydrogen sulfide. The Regulator has assisted the bonanza by permitting wells at a much higher density—up to 64 per section in some less populous areas—that usual. The impact on Agriculture has been devastating since each well requires service roads.

Coal bed methane is presently being recovered from the shallower coal beds at <~700-1000m in comparison to conventional oil/gas wells at much greater depths ~5,000m. This means that CBM can be recovered for much less cost of drilling. The same chemicals discussed earlier from the Supplement will be present in, on, under and around any well drilled for CBM. Every CBM well has an associated flare, almost certainly a sour flare because of the presence of sulfur in coal. Chemicals in coal are well defined during combustion31 and include some hetero-aromatic compounds that are characteristic of their origin - coal. Hetero-aromatic compounds are ones containing an aromatic ring usually with nitrogen replacing one carbon. Pyridine is an example. They are frequently neurotoxic with a slightly nauseating odor.32

It is common practise in drilling wells, water or oil, to release an explosive charge to fracture the rock and make the flow start. This has the added benefit that it increases the volume that is influenced by the pump. The action is called "fraccing" from "fracturing", in the "oil patch" vernacular. The process introduces a large number of micro-fissures into the rock. More and more people are reporting dramatic change in their water quality to us,33 34 35 following fraccing of a CBM well within about 0.5 to 2km from their water well. The presence of flammable gas in the water is common. Sediment or colloidal suspensions in once clear water and changes in taste are common.

Analysis of the water before and after will show there has been dramatic increase in the distribution of metals, particularly Vanadium, known to be associated with oil/coal. Coal contains a great number of heavy metals including arsenic, antimony, barium, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, lead, manganese, nickel and vanadium. Arsenic, Beryllium, Chromium, and Nickel are carcinogenic. Lead and Manganese are neurotoxic.

The Industry and the Regulator strongly oppose the concept of a possible connection between CBM wells and water wells but the Regulator has issued cautions when the separation of the two fraccing zones is a minimal distance. This suggests they unofficially acknowledged concerns. A more serious issue much closer to the topic of the Petition is acknowledged contamination of the groundwater by any substance in Table 1 or Table 2 through leaks, seeps, casing breaks and micro-passages following fraccing.

Groundwater flow is characterized by the presence of recharge and discharge zones when the plane of the aquifer cuts the external surface.35 A recharge zone is one where water enters the aquifer and a discharge zone is one where water exits the aquifer. Water flowing over ground contaminated by chemicals formulated for water use will pick up the chemicals and enter the aquifer at a recharge zone. Alternatively water flowing over contaminated soil will proceed down-slope and carry the chemicals to a river bank allowing the chemical to enter the river.

Chemicals from a CBM well fraccing zone can move, under higher pressure to the low pressure zone of an adjacent water well and enter the aquifer directly as well as the water system. In either case observed human exposure is a direct result of the presence of the CBM well.

Conclusions

  1. The species of concern in the Little Bow River are the Piping Plover and the Burrowing Owl. Both are Endangered and on Schedule 1 of SARA. In the Red Deer River the species of concern is the Sturgeon which is Threatened in Western waters.
  2. Conventional oil/gas/condensate wells are often found in the flood plane of these rivers or in the actual river itself contrary to provisions of CEPA.
  3. Spring flooding inundates vulnerable wells and permits releases of oil into the river contrary to CEPA.
  4. Hand drawn maps from both families confirm the locations of these wells.
  5. Trout appear on the COSEWIC lists of endangered, threatened or candidates for assessment because they are inherently more sensitive to the presence of small amounts of pollutants in water. They are a preferred species for toxicological testing of contaminants intended for human consumption.
  6. There are about 200+ commercial products (chemical mixtures) reported by the upstream oil/gas industry in use in the drilling of a well.
  7. They are described by their mode of physico-chemical action. These categories include Alkalinity and pH control: Bactericides: Calcium removers: Corrosion inhibitors: Defoamers: Emulsifiers: Filtrate reducer: Flocculants: Foaming agents: Lost circulation material; Lubricants: Shale Control Inhibitors: Surface active agents: Thinners and Dispersants: Viscosifiers: Weighting Materials: Polymer Stabilizers: Drill Mud Base Fluids: Polymer Breakers: Systems. A product usually will have several modes of action in addition to a preferred mode.
  8. The products are formulated for use in air (as an aerosol), water, oil-based mud. The first and last may need dispersants to stabilize them.
  9. Commercial products used in a workplace are covered by WHMIS. According to the legislation incorporating WHMIS each product must be accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS must describe the non-proprietary components of the product. The proprietary components must be made available [to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission (HMIRC)].
  10. Commercial products for use in the upstream oil/gas drilling industry must be powerful chemicals to work under the extreme conditions of a well.
  11. At least 24 of the products are corrosion inhibitors. Corrosion inhibitors are described as water conditioners under sec 116 CEPA. Corrosion inhibitors often contain amines. Amines are toxic to fish.
  12. At least 6 categories of action containing potentially about 200 commercial products have colloidal properties resembling soaps, detergents and cleaners. These products are generically described under sec 116 CEPA as cleaning products.
  13. A substantial number of commercial chemical mixtures used in the upstream Oil/Gas Industry in Alberta are formulated for use in Water.
  14. A smaller number of commercial chemical mixtures are used in the upstream oil/gas Industry in Alberta are formulated for use as acid mists.
  15. Acid mists are aerosols, colloids in air.
  16. Aerosols are always present near sour oil/gas flares where the low combustion efficiency permits release of substantial amount of raw fuel.
  17. Raw petroleum promotes the formation of aerosols in all weather conditions.
  18. Raw petroleum is a kidney and urinary tract toxicant.
  19. Kidney and urinary tract ailments are elevated throughout Alberta.
  20. Aerosols will travel long distances on the wind alone. Aerosols originating in Sudbury have been identified in Texas at the mouth of the Misissippi. Aerosols from Ohio Valley power plants have been identified in Nova Scotia. Aerosols from the San Fernando Valley have been identified in the Fraser valley.
  21. A commercial mixture in the Supplement has a potential range from where it is released to where it comes to ground of several kilometers.
  22. An aerosol will remain suspended in air until atmospheric conditions change, such as cooling over water.
  23. Sec 34 (1) of the Fisheries Act describes a deleterious substance as any substance that if added to water would degrade or alter or form part of a process of alteration or degradation of the quality of the water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent the water. Table 1 and Table 2 describe deleterious substances.
  24. Under the Fisheries Act deposit means any spraying, releasing, spilling, leaking, seeping, pouring, emitting, emptying, throwing, dumping or placing.
  25. Under the Fisheries Act "Fish Habitat" means spawning grounds, rearing, food supply, and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly to carry out their life processes.
  26. Under the Fisheries Act sec 35(1) of the Act states that no person shall carry on any work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. Wells are known in the middle of the Red Deer River inhabited by fish.
  27. In 1996, the Alberta Energy utilities Board published a map showing the extent of oil/gas flaring in Alberta. (Photo included*) In 1996 Statistics Canada recorded that 13,726 million cubic meters of gas was flared in Alberta. This was up from 2,500 million cubic meters in 1960. The map shows that there were 1,410 townships where flaring took place and about 5,200 point sources including batteries, pipelines, gas plants and sulfur recovery plants.
  28. About 1/3 of the gas flared contained more that 2 percent hydrogen sulfide or more, by definition, sour gas in Alberta.
  29. In the United States, sour gas contains 1 percent hydrogen sulfide or more.
  30. The sweet and sour components of a downwind flare have been characterized. (Table 3, Table 4) Approximately 150 chemicals have been identified in each. The report is public
  31. Environment Canada air quality engineers are reported to have ignored the findings of the Report. It was paid for by Federal monies.
  32. The report showed combustion efficiencies for flaring were ~60 to ~70%
  33. Dioxins are formed in flaring when Produce water (ancient sea water) enters the flare where organic matter is burning.
  34. Census Canada statistics show that every CD in Alberta has an inverted sex ratio: there are fewer males than females. This is a direct result of long term exposure to dioxins.
  35. Incineration has been proposed by the Regulator and the Industry.
  36. Incinerators burning cold generate more dioxin than they consume.
  37. Resident A has observed incinerators at several locations, either burning large amounts of soot or not burning at all but allowing fuel to vent.
  38. Raw fuel is a urinary tract toxicant.
  39. Resident A and Resident B both experience urinary tract inflammation when the incinerator above is venting.
  40. The well with this dysfunctional incinerator and flare is at 16-36-15-26 W4 operated by Encana. Neither the Company nor the Regulator will reveal what this well is intended to do, contrary to Alberta regulations.
  41. Raw fuel from this and many other wells is directly entering the rivers of Alberta.
  42. Dioxins are hormone disrupting substances and interfere with the ability of a species to reproduce. This is observed in the Great Lakes Watershed for 25-30 years.
  43. The Red Deer River was used by Sturgeon to spawn but they have not been observed for many years in these waters.
  44. Resident A and Resident B were both gassed when a sour gas well suddenly and without warning "went to flare". This means the entire production was directed to flare. Instantaneously the combustion efficiency dropped to low values and they were flooded with hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide and raw fuel. They lost consciousness. In a moment they received several years worth of chemical exposure. Today they are both severely disabled with chemical sensitivity. The Regulator has repeatedly tried to blame them for the gassing. [information withheld] who was not gassed has not developed the chemical sensitivity.
  45. [name withheld] was about 1/2 mile from home when he drove though an invisible cloud of flared gases from Shell Caroline Gas Plant. He instantly lost consciousness. When he recovered he had a raging headache and today is severely chemical sensitivity. Neither he nor the Resident A have received any recognition of culpability from the Industry, the Regulator not the Companies.
  46. Chemical sensitivity is understood as an adverse impact of xenobiotic chemicals on the human limbic system, following chronic intermittent exposure to low levels of toxicants.
  47. Mainstream medical practitioners have recognized criteria for a diagnosis.
  48. Health Canada was made aware of the syndrome in ~1995 but appears to have paid no attention.
  49. The etiology of Chemical sensitivity includes progressive exposure to very low concentrations of chemicals that induce a classical conditioning response. Usually the subject is unaware of the response. Intermittent winds carry the chemicals to the subject. The subject usually is unaware they have developed a chemical sensitivity until they are suddenly made aware.
  50. Coal bed methane (CBM) has experienced massive exploitation recently in Alberta.
  51. CBM wells are usually shallower allowing quicker access to relatively low cost resources.
  52. CBM will usually be sour due to the presence of sulfur in coal. An array of heavy metals are present in coal.
  53. The Regulator has permitted CBM wells at a much higher density than usual, up to 64 per section in some areas. The impact on Agriculture has been devastating since each well requires service roads, flares or incinerators etc. The impact of upstream oil/gas development on this scale on people has been equally devastating.
  54. Long-term exposure to plumes from sour gas flaring have been shown in unpublished work to be statistically associated with female reproductive cancers including breast, endometrial, cervical and ovarian. Breast Cancer rates in the Foothills have been described as an "epidemic".
  55. It is common practise in drilling wells, water or oil to release an explosive charge to fracture the rock and make the flow start. The action is called fraccing in the vernacular of the Industry. The process introduces a large number of micro-fractures in the rock.
  56. More and more people are reporting to us that they experience dramatic changes in their water quality following fraccing of a CBM well. Flammable gases in the water, colloidal suspensions, sediment and dramatic changes in the heavy metals in the water are all described. Vanadium is known associated with oil/coal. Methyl pyridines are neurotoxins and chemicals with an origin in coal that appear in water after fraccing. Presently water wells separated by up to 1.5-2 km from CBM have been reported to display contamination. Industry and the Regulator vehemently deny any connection.
  57. The aquifer can be contaminated by water flowing over ground contaminated by chemicals used to develop a new well entering the aquifer at a recharge zone.
  58. The aquifer can be contaminated when the fraccing zone cracks of a water well intersect the fraccing zone cracks of a CBM well. The chemicals in the CBM well, both developmental and from the well are under high pressure and will migrate along the pressure axis to the low pressure fraccing zone of the water well. They can enter the well and continue in the aquifer.
  59. Water flowing over ground contaminated with chemical fallout from developing a well can pick up variable amounts depending on the polarity of the substance. The water will flow downgrade to a recharge zone or to an adjacent creek or river allowing access to the fish habitat.
  60. Within the context of the Precautionary Principle the loss of species diversity and the decline in populations in the two river basins in this petition are the direct result of persistent chemical exposure to deleterious substances in use in the Upstream Oil/Gas Industry to develop wells, from flaring waste gas /oil during operations to recover resources, from indifferent and incompetent Provincial regulators, and from the indifference of a rapacious Industry made ravenous by greed.

Questions for Ministers:

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Government when resource exploitation and development within the Federation by federally regulated corporations adversely impacts the declarations, provisions and intent of Federal Laws?

Q2:

Does the Precautionary Principle have limits in the context of resource exploitation and development within the Canadian Federation by federally regulated corporations?

Q3:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the copy of the Supplement provided**. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

3a

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

3b

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are imported annually according to the records of Customs and Border Security and Revenue Canada?

3c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry in 2005?

3d

What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of the Federal Government in 2005

Q4:

Pollution generated by the exploitation and development of natural resources in Alberta adversely impacts fish and wildlife habitat as described by the Fisheries Act by depositing deleterious substances into the rivers in this petition and other rivers in Alberta and Western Canada in proximity to flares, incinerators and CBM wells, at least within the context of the Precautionary Principle. This petition shows that the chemical identify of many pollutants is known, and, with adequate resources, the pollutants in an area could be statistically tested and proven or disproved as potential causes of the extinction, extirpation etc of a species within an ecosystem. Resources for this are not available. Penalties for rendering extinct, extirpation from a river system, damaging a fish habitat etc. should reflect the environmental loss imposed by the Corporation on the environment.

Therefore we ask "What limitations and objections would you place, apart from those of Industry lobbyists, to the proposal to making the enforcement penalties of CEPA reflect the gravity of the ecosystem loss"? The loss of a species through corporate intransigence or neglect could equate to the loss of Federal Charter for a period conforming to multiples of the lifetime of a species made extinct. Impractical we know but perfectly reflective of the gravity of the loss of a species.

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Q1:

What is the role of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans when natural resource exploitation and development within a Province adversely impacts the provisions of the Fisheries Act, adversely impacts fish habitat, adversely affects spawning grounds, adversely impacts terms and clauses prohibiting the potential deposit of deleterious substances into waters in the Canadian Federation?

Q2:

Does the Precautionary Principle enunciated in CEPA apply to the Fisheries Act in the context of CEPA sec 46(1) (i) "substances that if released into areas of Canada where there are migratory birds, endangered species or other wildlife regulated under any Act of Parliament are harmful or capable of causing harm to those birds, species or wildlife"?

Q3:

If the answer to Q2 above is positive, then Why is the minister of Fisheries and Oceans delaying enforcement actions under the Fisheries Act when the Red Deer River appears to be rendered toxic to several species of fish by the exploitation of natural resources including upstream oil / gas development in Alberta?

Q4:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

4a

Therefore What is the role of the your ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

4c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to your Ministry in 2005?

4d

What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Minister of Environment

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment when natural resource exploitation and development within a Province adversely impacts the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, including but not limited to the potential deposit of deleterious substances into waters in the Canadian Federation and into the air of the Canadian Federation?

Q2:

Does the Precautionary Principle enunciated in CEPA apply within the federal Ministry of Environment as a "Working Principle" or is it only a philosophical frill?

Q3:

If the answer to Q2 above is that the Precautionary Principle is a Working Principle within the Ministry then Why has the Minister delayed enforcement actions under the provisions of CEPA or enforcement of other Acts in the context of CEPA sec 46(1) (i) "substances that if released into areas of Canada where there are migratory birds, endangered species or other wildlife regulated under any Act of Parliament are harmful or capable of causing harm to those birds, species or wildlife" in the Little Bow and Red Deer Rivers basin?

Q4:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment when natural resource exploitation and development within a Province adversely impacts the quality and amount of groundwater available for use by other sectors of the economy, including but not limited to agriculture?

Q5:

Groundwater is either a slowly renewable resource, depending heavily upon climate, or old deep groundwater which is a renewable resource only in the context of geological time.

The Minister was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying that Canada is far behind all other countries in respect of the protection of water. The Minister has been quoted as speaking about the needs of a Water Act.

Documents available from the CCME refer only to the use of Guidelines. Guidelines such as "From Source to Tap" are empty, hollow, idealistic and inapplicable to regulate a scarce or non-renewable resource such as groundwater. CCME guidelines are not risk based. CCME Canada Wide Standards (CWS) are not risk based nor are they protective of human health. They are only and solely a point of agreement between "good-buddies", the Ministers of Environment.

We have shown here that within two years of commencing exploitation of a new resource (Coal bed methane) reports of contamination of the groundwater resource in the same area are frequent and growing. Within the context of the Kyoto Accord ( Global warming) and the environmental provisions of NAFTA ( International agreements on pollution) groundwater will rapidly assume a new impotance, nationally and internationally.

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment to protect the quality and quantity of groundwater available in the Canadian Federation when self-regulation by Industry is impractical, inoperative or ineffective and the Provinces have abandoned regulation in the long term?

Q6:

Will the list of factors affecting source water quality, outlined in "From Source to Tap" be expanded to include the impact of oil and gas development specifically CBM activities?

Q7:

In Alberta where almost 25% of the population depends on groundwater, what percentage of water use is attributable to the oil and gas industry including water rights on rivers.

Q8:

What are the present reserves of accessible groundwater in terms of years of use in 1990 terms?

Q9:

Is Canada a signatory to the Global Convention on Species Diversity?

Q10:

The global community has set itself the goal of making a substantial reduction in the rate of species loss by 2010.

Therefore What concrete actions will the Federal Minister of Environment take to reverse the impact of natural resource exploitation and development on endangered and threatened fish in the Red Deer River?

10a:

Will Canada make a substantial reduction in rate of species loss and if so in what form will it be expressed?

Q11:

If the answer to Q9 is negative please explain why Canada has not signed this vital document and expressed a commitment for its goals?

Q12:

Pollution generated by the exploitation and development of natural resources in Alberta adversely impacts the fish habitat as described by the Fisheries Act by depositing deleterious substances into the rivers in this petition and other rivers in Alberta and Western Canada in proximity to flares, incinerators and CBM wells, at least within the context of the Precautionary Principle. This petition shows that the chemical identify of many pollutants is known, and, with adequate resources, the pollutants in an area could be statistically tested and proven or disproved as potential causes of the extinction, extirpation etc of a species within an ecosystem. Resources for this are not available. Penalties for rendering extinct, extirpation from a river system, damaging a fish habitat etc. should reflect the loss.

Therefore we ask the Minister "What limitations and objections would you place, apart from those of Industry lobbyists, to the proposal to making the enforcement penalties of CEPA reflect the gravity of the ecosystem loss"? The loss of a species through corporate intransigence or neglect would equate to the loss of Federal Charter for a period conforming to multiples of the lifetime of a species made extinct. Impractical we know but perfectly reflective of the gravity of the loss of a species.

Q13:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

Therefore What is the role of the your Ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

13c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

13d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry of the Federal Government in 2005.

Q14:

The status of the Burrowing Owl in the Little Bow River watershed in respect to SARA is endangered.

Therefore Has the Minister made recommendations under SARA to protect the Burrowing Owl in southern Alberta by extending the prohibition of destruction of burrows in SARA to non-federal species residences throughout the watersheds of the Little Bow, the Oldman and the South Saskatchewan Rivers?

Minister of Health

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Health when natural resource development and exploitation within a Province adversely effects the provisions of the Canada Health Act and other Acts that the Minister administers?

Q2:

Does the Precautionary Principle enunciated in CEPA apply to the Canada Health Act?

Q3:

The volume of oil/gas sent to flare in 2006 is not yet available but is expected to exceed the previous record established in 1996 (~13,726 million meters cubed). Chronic exposure to the plumes of partially combusted fuel contains many of the same chemicals observed in second-hand smoke. After correcting for smoking cancer is endemic in Alberta. Sour gas flaring generates unstable sulfur oxides which are known to convert to carcinogenic sulfur species in the atmosphere. It is known that female reproductive cancers show a statistically significant dose-response effect to this carcinogenic sulfur species.

Therefore What action will the Federal Minister of Health take to reduce the amount of sulfur flared in Alberta and other parts of Western Canada with significant oil/gas flaring?

Q4:

CBM resource development and exploitation requires a flare or incinerator to prevent venting sulfur-laced oil/gas waste. It is the experience of Resident A, one of the petitioners, that Industry will flow Nitrogen in the incinerator to prevent it operating correctly in order to vent raw gas. The rationale to vent raw gas can only be answered by the [name and position withheld]. The specific well is [information withheld] from Resident A. Raw petroleum is a kidney and urinary tract toxicant. The incidence of Kidney disease in Alberta is very high.

Therefore What action will the Federal Minister of Health take to ensure that the amount of raw petroleum fuel flared or vented is reduced?

Q5:

Incinerators have been proposed by the Regulator in Alberta as a solution to the low combustion efficiency of flares observed in the [name withheld] report. In the professional opinion of the author, from a human health perspective, they could not have made a worse decision. The Regulator has ignored the impact of the Alberta climate on the operation of flares that was shown by a [name and position withheld].

[name withheld] showed that the combustion efficiency in a flare depends inversely upon the wind-speed, and inversely upon the dilution of the fuel. Under these circumstances which do not change, the probability is high that incinerators installed in place of flares in Alberta may operate with only slightly better efficiency than flares?

Inefficient incinerators will produce more dioxins than they consume. Dioxins affect the ability of a species to reproduce. Statistics Canada has shown that the sex ratio in Alberta is inverted, with more females than males. Chronic Dioxin exposure has been shown to lead to elevated rates of Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Kidney disease?

Therefore Will the Federal Minister of Health conduct a Health Survey in Alberta of the incidence of cancer sites including male and female brain, bone, connective tissue, bladder, kidney, lung, stomach, colon, rectal, thyroid and unknown sites together with male and female reproductive sites, the incidence of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the incidence of cardio vascular disease (CVD), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), ischemic heart disease, (IHD), Stroke and Heart attack both with and without pre-existing diabetes, and kidney and urinary tract diseases with and without pre-existing diabetes based on the geographic unit of the CD (Census District)?

Q6:

If the Health of Albertans specifically, and residents of other Provinces where natural resource exploitation and development is taking place generally, is affected to a measurable extent by the quality of the air they breathe, then will the Minister of Health provide a rationalization of the Health Care Costs as a result of the resource development?

Q7:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

7a

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

7c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

7d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Minister of Justice

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Justice in Prosecuting the provisions of the Fisheries Act or CEPA?

Q2:

If Federal monies are expended by Federally registered companies in the exploitation and development of Natural resources, including but not limited to Tar sands, do Federal Laws take precedence over Provincial?

Minister of Industry

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Industry in the exploitation and development of natural resources when the developments have adverse impacts on human health and wellness and ecosystem health in the context of the Precautionary principle?

Q2:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

2a

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

2c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

2d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Minister of Labor

Q1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Labor when Federally registered and regulated companies operate to exploit natural resources in an open-air context?

Q2:

Does this role change when the companies are not Federally regulated or registered?

Q3:

Does the exploitation and development of Natural resources by a Federally regulated company create a condition where the Federal Labor Code applies?

Q4:

Under Q3 above what provisions of the Federal Occupational Health and Safety provisions apply to an outdoor worksite?

Q5:

How does this change when the companies are not Federally registered but operating under contract to Federally registered companies?

Minister responsible for WHMIS

Q1:

Please provide copies of all the MSDS sheets for all the Commercial products identified in the Supplement?

Q2:

Please provide assessments for all the proprietary compounds included in the commercial products in the Supplement with respect to their toxicity in the biosphere, specifically for fish, birds wildlife and humans, at the same time identifying the commercial product in which they are found? The proprietary products do not need to be identified with a correct scientific name.

Q3:

In the event that some of the assessments in Q2 above reveal that an adverse impact on the ecosystem including birds, fish, wildlife and humans, is potentially possible provide the rationale that has allowed or permitted the use of this product in an uncontrolled manner in a workplace that is in the open air.

Q4:

Please provide any other information that will elaborate on the risk to the ecosystem including birds, fish, wildlife and humans posed by using any of the products in the Supplement in the open air.

Q5:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

5a

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

5c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

5d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Minister of Agriculture

Q1:

Table 1/2 Bactericides: There are at least 14 commercial products described by Industry as bactericides. Five of these are associated with use in air.

Therefore Are these bactericides covered by provisions of the Pesticides Act or any other similar legislation covering the use of fungicides, herbicides or other similar products?

Q2:

Are these bactericides capable of proving harmful to Fish Habitat as defined under the Fisheries Act, either by harming water-borne plants or organisms need by the Species at Risk to survive?

Q3:

What is the Role of the Federal Minister of Agriculture in protecting the food chain when the animals entering the food chain have been chronically exposed to chemicals produced by flaring oil/gas/condensate/CBM when the chemicals have a proven toxicity toward humans?

Q4:

What is the Policy of the Federal Minister of Agriculture toward food that has been chronically exposed to dioxins, furnas and other similar endocrine disrupting substances?

Q5:

In the context of BSE the Federal Minister of Agriculture have a deservedly stringent policy toward recycling dead animal parts.

Therefore is the Minister aware of any similar concerns regarding the toxicity or adverse effects known or anticipated from chronic exposure to Dioxins?

Q6:

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

6a

Therefore What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

6c

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to your Ministry in 2005?

6d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Auditor General of Canada

Q1:

Will you please audit the replies to this petition formulated by the Ministers to ensure they represent a true response from the Government and are not replies prepared by Industry Lobbyists for Government.

This work has been the product of many hands. The families, [names withheld], Resident A and Resident B; Linda Abrams of Turner Valley who provided feedback and [name withheld], [name withheld] and [name withheld] who together showed Linda over the sites in the Little Bow River basin. To each of them I express my heartfelt thanks for their assistance in making this work possible. I take full responsibility for this work.

[Original signed by James Argo]

James Argo Ph.D. (Cantab)
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
Box 101, Wolfe Island, ON
K0H2Y0
Canada
iceh@kos.net
613-385-1831 eve
613-385-1832 fax

[Original signed by [names and information withheld]]

Resident A

[information withheld]

Resident B

[information withheld]

Encl.
Maps* from Resident A
Maps* from [name withheld]
Photo reprints* of the Little Bow River and surrounding infrastructure
Photo reprints* of the Red Deer River and surrounding infrastructure
Photo reprints* of a gas plant flare
Photo reprint* of the Petro-Canada Rimbey Gas Plant going to flare

(Originals of all photographs*are available)

9 copies [information withheld] Supplement*

*[attachments not included]


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Minister's Response: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

26 October 2006

James Argo, PhD
IntraAmericas Centre for Environment & Health
Box 101
Wolfe Island, ON
K0H 2Y0

Dear Dr. Argo:

Thank you for your environmental petition numbered 172 dated June 13, 2006 concerning Residential Exposure Assessment and Risk Analysis: Cancer and Other Diseases of Environmental Exposure. The petition was forwarded by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment; the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry; the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health; the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food; the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Justice; the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources; the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour; and the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety on June 30, 2006.

In your petition, you posed questions under the Auditor General Act in regard to species diversity in the surrounding areas of both the Little Bow River and the Red Deer River due to the proximity of oil/gas industry operations. We have considered your questions and have responded to them in the order in which they were presented. I am pleased to provide you with our reply to the petition questions that you directed to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The Government of Canada appreciates your interest in this important matter, and trusts that you will find this information useful.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board]

Chuck Strahl

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
240 Sparks Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0G6


RESPONSE OF THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD
TO ENVIRONMENTAL PETITION 172 FILED
BY INTRAAMERICAS CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH UNDER
THE
AUDITOR GENERAL ACT (RECEIVED JUNE 13, 2006):

Residential Exposure Assessment and Risk Analysis:
Cancer and Other Diseases of Environmental Exposure

October 28, 2006

Background

On June 13, 2006, the IntraAmericas Centre for Environment & Health (hereinafter referred to as the Petitioner) filed Petition 172 (hereinafter referred to as the Petition) with the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, pursuant to Section 22 of the Auditor General Act. The Petition contains questions relating to concerns over species diversity in the surrounding areas of the Little Bow River and the Red Deer River (both in Alberta) due to the proximity of oil/gas industry operations (for example, pipelines and gas processing plants). The questions posed specifically to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food are addressed in this Petition response.

The Petition was sent by the Office of the Auditor General to the petitioned Ministers on June 30, 2006. For this reason, the 120 days allowed for the Government of Canada to respond to the Petition, as expressed in the Auditor General Act, began on June 30, 2006.

The Petition process set out in Section 22 of the Auditor General Act is a means by which Canadians can express their views while seeking more information on matters of federal policy in the context of the environment and sustainable development. The Government of Canada wishes to assure the Petitioner and other Canadians that responsible stewardship of human health, animal health, biodiversity, and the environment is of priority to the Government of Canada.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development forwarded the Petition to the following Ministers for response:

    Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
    Minister of the Environment
    Minister of Industry
    Minister of Health
    Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
    Minister of Justice
    Minister of Natural Resources
    Minister of Labour
    Minister of Public Safety

The response provided by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food reflects the roles and responsibilities of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in the context of this matter.

Responses to Petitioner's Questions

Question 1: Table 1/ 2 Bactericides: There are at least 14 commercial products described by Industry as bactericides. Five of these are associated with use in air. Therefore, are these bactericides covered by provisions of the Pesticides Act or any other similar legislation covering the use of fungicides, herbicides or other similar products.

As this falls within the jurisdiction of Health Canada, please see its response.

Question 2: Are these bactericides capable of proving harmful to Fish Habitat as defined under the Fisheries Act, either by harming water-borne plants or organisms needed by the Species at Risk to survive?

As the regulation of bactericides falls within the jurisdiction of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which reports to the Minister of Health, please see Health Canada's response.

Question 3: What is the Role of the Federal Minister of Agriculture in protecting the food chain when the animals entering the food chain have been chronically exposed to chemicals produced by flaring oil/gas/condensate/CBM when the chemicals have a proven toxicity towards humans?

Question 4: What is the Policy of the Federal Minister of Agriculture toward food that has been chronically exposed to dioxins, furans and other similar endocrine disrupting substances?

(The following information is provided in response to both Question 3 and Question 4.)

The Government of Canada verifies that food produced in Canada continues to be among the safest and highest-quality in the world.

Health Canada conducts risk assessments on contaminants and establishes maximum residue limits (MRLs), which are the levels considered safe to remain in or on foods without adverse health effects.

The CFIA operates a National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP) to gather information that can be used to determine the occurrence of contaminants in the agricultural food supply. Monitoring the levels of contaminants through product sampling and testing for chemical residues allows the CFIA to identify and remove contaminants from the food supply. The CFIA is also able to utilize the monitoring data to prevent potential health hazards caused by chronic exposure to contaminants and does this by monitoring areas of concern, examining trends of prevalence and developing effective action plans to deal with health risks. Inspection, sampling and testing resources are concentrated on the food products and contaminants where there is the greatest potential for health risks.

There are approximately 220,000 sample tests conducted annually to monitor the level of contamination in the food supply. Testing is done for a wide variety of contaminants, including veterinary drugs, agricultural chemicals, industrial and environmental pollutants, and natural toxins. The NCRMP includes random samples for a wide variety of products, as well as directed sampling for strategically targeted food products and compliance testing of suspected shipments. The reports provide summary information only, which needs to be properly interpreted using accepted statistical and scientific techniques.

Findings of residue contamination in a food product are evaluated to determine if there is a violation of Canadian standards and if the violation poses a potential health risk to consumers. A positive test for contamination in a food product does not necessarily indicate a health risk for the consumer. Residue levels at or below the MRLs are in compliance and do not require regulatory action. The CFIA takes appropriate action when a violation is identified through more elevated residue findings. These actions include follow-up inspections, further directed sampling according to a surveillance plan, or even seizure and recall of products when the health risk is considered unacceptable. Follow-up actions vary according to the magnitude of the health risk, all with the objective of preventing any repeat occurrence or further distribution of items still in the marketplace.

The CFIA enforces the food safety standards set by Health Canada when residue monitoring results indicate a violation of the acceptable limits, and is constantly analyzing the effectiveness of corrective actions, policy changes and new regulations. The CFIA will use information when there is no immediate health risk associated with a positive test result to build its database on contaminants in the food supply. This information is shared with Health Canada for further analytical consideration in order to re-evaluate and update Canadian standards and MRLs. In fact, on average less than two per cent of the thousands of samples tested by the CFIA ever exceed the MRLs established by Health Canada. This includes food produced in Canada as well as products imported from other countries.

The NCRMP reports now include results for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. The CFIA posts all cases where para-dioxins are found to be in violation, as the Food and Drug Regulations indicate a zero tolerance level for chlorinated para-dioxins in food. The results gathered to date show ubiquitous low background levels of dioxin and dioxin-like residues in animal-derived or fat-containing products. Health Canada has determined that these trace amounts do not pose a health risk to consumers. Dioxins are found throughout the environment from both industrial activities and natural sources, such as forest fires. The levels found are minute and are consistent with those reported in other countries.

The NCRMP reports are posted as a source of information for the public, media, industry groups and the scientific community. All of the information is available on the CFIA website at <www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/microchem/resid/reside.shtml>.

In regard to fish, the CFIA enforces the Fish Inspection Act and Fish Inspection Regulations, which govern imported fish and fish products and domestic fish and fish products marketed in interprovincial and international trade. Regulations made under this Act govern such activities as the safety controls, hygiene, transport, processing, and labelling of all fish and fish products for interprovincial and international trade. The CFIA's activities include:

  • registering establishments that process fish and seafood products for export or interprovincial trade
  • developing policies, product and process standards (including inspection requirements) for fish and seafood products and federally registered facilities, importers, and cold storage facilities
  • inspecting facilities processing fish to verify that they are operating within legislative requirements
  • monitoring fish and fish products to verify that they meet standards for food safety, quality, labelling, etc.

The CFIA's monitoring of fish and seafood products includes testing to verify that products meet the guidelines set by Health Canada for chemical (such as PCBs, dioxins, and mercury) and microbiological contamination. The CFIA takes action against products that are found to exceed the Health Canada guidelines for any of these contaminants in order to protect human health.

The CFIA will continue to monitor fish for various contaminants and work with Health Canada and our other federal, provincial and territorial partners in food safety.

Question 5: In the context of BSE, the Federal Minister of Agriculture has a deservedly stringent policy toward recycling dead animal parts. Therefore, is the Minister aware of any similar concerns regarding the toxicity or adverse effects known or anticipated from chronic exposures to dioxins?

Under the authority of the Feeds Act, the CFIA administers a National Feed Inspection Program to verify that livestock feeds manufactured and sold in Canada or imported into Canada are safe, effective, and labelled appropriately. Various feed ingredients and feed products are monitored, after they are approved for livestock use, as part of this program and the samples that are collected include ingredients such as animal fats obtained from rendering. Dioxins are just one of the groups of contaminants that are routinely monitored for within this sampling program. Any feeds that may adversely affect animal or human health would be considered unacceptable for use as livestock feed.

Question 6: In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

6a. Therefore, What is the role of the federal government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

As this falls within the jurisdiction of Health Canada, please see its response.

6b. There was no question 6b.

6c. What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical industry according to your Ministry in 2005?

As this falls within the jurisdiction of Industry Canada, please see its response.

6d. What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

As this falls within the jurisdiction of Environment Canada, please see its response.

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Minister's Response: Canada Border Services Agency

3 November 2006

Mr. James Argo
IntraAmericas Centre for Environment & Health
Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Mr. Argo:

The purpose of this letter is to acknowledge receipt of your Environmental Petition entitled "Species Diversity and Resource Development in Alberta" filed with the Office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and forwarded for response to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on or before October 29, 2006 as per specifications of the Auditor General Act.

With respect to your Environmental Petition, the following question was the only one pertaining to our Agency:

Q3:

    3b. What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement* are imported annually according to the records of Customs and Border Security and Revenue Canada?

*Oilweek Magazine, Supplement 2006, Guide to Drilling Fluids (June Warren Publishing, Calgary, AB, March 2006)

In brief, commodity importations are identified and documented using codes based on the World Customs Organization's Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS). This requires detailed product descriptions to ensure that the correct HS code is applied during importation. CBSA uses these code identifiers to review, analyze, or retrieve information regarding specific commodity importations.

In most cases, the Oilweek Magazine Supplement does not provide sufficient detail to accurately identify the correct HS code. Where the description is adequate, the products are crude and could be imported for any number of unspecified applications. For these identifiable products, CBSA records would only indicate the quantities entering the country and would not provide any discernible associations to a particular industry.

Regrettably, after a thorough review by subject matter specialists, CBSA is unable to respond to your query with as much specifics as requested.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety]

Stockwell Day

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment
and Sustainable Development

 

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Minister's Response: Environment Canada

28 November 2006

Mr. James Argo
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
Box 101
Wolfe Island, ON
K0H 2Y0

Dear Mr. Argo:

I am writing to provide Environment Canada's response to your petition no. 172 to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, regarding loss of species diversity in Alberta and resource development. Your petition was received by Environment Canada on July 4.

I am pleased to enclose Environment Canada's response to your petition. I understand that the other Ministers to whom you have addressed questions will be responding separately to matters that fall under their respective mandates.

I appreciate this opportunity to respond to your petition, and I trust that you will find this information useful.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment]

Rona Ambrose

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas
Commissioner of the Environment and
Sustainable Development


Environment Canada Response to Environmental Petition No. 172
Pursuant to section 22 of the
Auditor General Act on loss of species diversity in Alberta and resource development

The following are questions that were addressed to all Ministers.

Question 3d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of the Federal Government in 2005?

Response

Please refer to question Question 13c, below, addressed to the Minister of the Environment.

Question 4d

What limitations and objections would you place, apart from those of Industry lobbyists, to the proposal to making the enforcement penalties of CEPA reflect the gravity of the ecosystem loss?

Response

Please refer to Question 12, which was addressed to the Minister of the Environment (below).


The following are questions that were specifically addressed to the Minister of the Environment.

Question 1

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment when natural resource exploitation and development within a Province adversely impacts the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, including but not limited to the potential deposit of deleterious substances into waters in the Canadian Federation and into the air of the Canadian Federation?

Response

The federal Minister of the Environment's role under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), with respect to natural resource exploitation and development within a province, relates to a release of a substance regulated under the Act into water or air. Subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act (the "pollution prevention provisions") could also apply if a deposit, which was released into Canadian fishery waters during natural resource exploitation and development was deleterious to fish, and no regulation existed under subsection 36(5) of the Fisheries Act or no regulation existed under another federal law authorizing that deposit. Likewise, the prohibition against deposit of a deleterious substance into water or another place where migratory birds are found could apply, based on section 5.1 of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA 1994), unless the deposit was made under one of the following conditions: the deposit was authorized under the Canada Shipping Act; the substance was of a type and quantity and the deposit was made under conditions authorized by an Act of Parliament other than the Canada Shipping Act, or the Minister of the Environment authorized the deposit for scientific purposes under the MBCA 1994.

Question 2

Does the Precautionary Principle enunciated in CEPA apply within the federal Ministry of Environment as a "Working Principle" or is it only a philosophical frill?

Response

The precautionary principle is one of the key principles of CEPA 1999. Application of the principle is an administrative duty of the Act, meaning that precaution is taken into consideration as part of all decisions under the Act. For instance, safety factors are applied in risk assessments and the development of risk management objectives. Precaution is applied consistently, as articulated in "A Framework for the Application of Precaution in Science-based Decision Making about Risk," which is available on the Privy Council Office website.

Question 3

If the answer to Q2 above is that the Precautionary Principle is a Working Principle within the Ministry then Why has the Minister delayed enforcement actions under the provisions of CEPA or enforcement of other Acts in the context of CEPA sec 46(1) (i) "substances that if released into areas of Canada where there are migratory birds, endangered species or other wildlife regulated under any Act of Parliament are harmful or capable of causing harm to those birds, species or wildlife" in the Little Bow and Red Deer Rivers basin?

Response

In order to take measures regarding an alleged violation, an Environment Canada enforcement officer (under CEPA 1999), a game officer (under the MBCA 1994) or an Environment Canada fishery officer/fishery inspector (under the Fisheries Act) needs confirmation of the alleged violation. The confirmation follows inspection and/or investigation and the collection of evidence, and is based on the seriousness of the damage or potential damage to fish habitat, an incoming complaint, or a routine patrol by officers. In the case of a petition submitted under the Auditor General Act, Environment Canada requires specific information to determine whether any legislation that it administers applies to the situation that is the subject of the petition.

In regard to Petition 172, Environmental Enforcement, Prairie and Northern Region, will continue to apply the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. The photographs that were submitted will assist the enforcement officers in their efforts.

Question 4

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment when natural resource exploitation and development within a Province adversely impacts the quality and amount of groundwater available for use by other sectors of the economy, including but not limited to agriculture?

Response

The Constitution does not deal explicitly with water, but assigns the provinces primary responsibility for most natural resources and authority over "property and civil rights", the "management and sale of public lands," control over local works and undertakings and "all matters of a merely local or private nature."

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over certain areas related to water management: fisheries, navigation, relations with foreign governments, federal lands and lands reserved for Aboriginals, works for "the general advantage of Canada" and "peace, order and good government." The federal government's jurisdiction for relations with foreign governments results in a shared responsibility with provinces for the management of boundary waters.

As water is considered a natural resource and land is taken to include water, the provinces have the primary responsibility for managing water. They legislate in most areas of water use, granting licences or permits to use water, discharge waste into watercourses, and license water resources developments such as hydroelectric projects. The provinces have delegated certain responsibilities to local governments and agencies, including the provision of municipal water supply and sewerage.

The provinces license or permit the various water takings from surface and ground waters.

Within federal jurisdiction, CEPA 1999 is one of the primary elements of the legislative framework for protecting the Canadian environment and human health. A key aspect of CEPA 1999 is the identification of sources of pollution that pose the greatest risk to the environment and human health and the development of tools (for example, regulations, guidelines, pollution prevention plans) for managing or preventing the risk.

Environment Canada has no data on the quantity or quality of groundwater in Alberta, but Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has a program to assess key aquifers in Canada.

NRCan has initiated a three-year long, Canada-wide study to assess key regional aquifers in Canada; this is the second phase of a plan whose first phase extended from 2003 to 2006. NRCan's groundwater program will produce maps that will help identify the quality and sustainability of aquifer waters and examine the effects of climate change on groundwater resources. While NRCan does not manage groundwater resources, it can provide hydrogeological information and models to water management agencies and owners responsible for ensuring reliable groundwater supplies.

One of NRCan's primary study targets is the Paskapoo Formation, which covers 10 000 kilometres2 in the southwest of the province and is penetrated by more than 80 000 groundwater wells, making it the most heavily used aquifer in Alberta. Since 2003, scientists at NRCan have been collecting information on groundwater quantity and quality in this aquifer, in close collaboration with several partners, including the University of Calgary, Alberta Environment and the Alberta Geological Survey.

It is expected that this joint project will aid those making decisions on groundwater resource allocations and protecting sensitive recharge zones in areas that are being rapidly urbanized with enhanced hydrogeological models. In addition, a better understanding of natural controls on water chemistry will aid conflict resolution in regions of intensive industrial development that lack baseline water geochemical data.

The project ends in March 2009, and all relevant data and information will be available from each of the partners of the project in the form of maps, models, databases and scientific publications.

Question 5

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Environment to protect the quality and quantity of groundwater available in the Canadian Federation when self regulation by Industry is impractical, inoperative or ineffective and the Provinces have abandoned regulation in the long term?

Response

Please refer to question Question 4 above.

Question 6

Will the list of factors affecting source water quality, outlined in "From Source to Tap" be expanded to include the impact of oil and gas development specifically CBM activities?

Response

The "Source to Tap" document includes an inventory of potential drinking water contaminants and their origins. This list is not exhaustive, and was intended to demonstrate the large variety of contaminant types that may affect source water quality and some of the sources from which they originate. Determination of contaminants affecting the quality of a particular source must be performed on a site-specific basis. The source water assessment should include an inventory of contaminants and sources of these contaminants in the area surrounding the source. This, in combination with an assessment of the water quality, is the only way to determine which contaminants are actually impacting the source water area.

Question 7

In Alberta where almost 25 percent of the population depends on groundwater, what percentage of water use is attributable to the oil and gas industry including water rights on rivers?

Response

As noted in response to Question 4, water use is primarily under provincial jurisdiction. As such, Environment Canada has no data on the percentage of the quantities of Alberta's groundwater and surface water used by various industries, or on remaining reserves of water.

Question 8

What are the present reserves of accessible groundwater in terms of years of use in 1990 terms?

Response

Please refer to question Question 7, above.

Question 9

Is Canada a signatory to the Global Convention on Species Diversity?

Response

Although there is no "Global Convention on Species Diversity," Canada is a party to (has signed and ratified) the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, along with 188 other nations. Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA) fulfills a key commitment under the Convention and serves as an important tool for the conservation and protection of Canada's biological diversity.

Question 10

The global community has set itself the goal of making a substantial reduction in the rate of species loss by 2010. Therefore what concrete actions will the Federal Minister of Environment take to reverse the impact of natural resource exploitation and development on endangered and threatened fish in the Red Deer River?

Response

As noted in response to Question 9, Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and has, therefore, committed "to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth." Canada is preparing a report on status and trends of its biodiversity, including species diversity, as a contribution to the 2010 target.

Under SARA, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the protection and recovery of listed aquatic species at risk, other than those found in National Parks, which are under the jurisdiction of the Parks Canada Agency. No fish or aquatic species in the Red Deer River are listed as threatened or endangered through the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and the SARA process. However, should aquatic species be listed in the future, recovery strategies for those species will be implemented under SARA. Please refer to Question 10a below for additional details.

Question 10a

Will Canada make a substantial reduction in rate of species loss and if so in what form will it be expressed?

Response

The protection and recovery of species at risk is a responsibility in which federal, provincial and territorial governments all have a role to play. In 1996, federal, provincial and territorial ministers (with the exception of Quebec) responsible for wildlife signed the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and committed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. SARA came into force in June 2004. It complements the existing suite of federal, provincial and territorial conservation tools that assist in protecting Canada's biodiversity.

SARA provides a framework for the federal government to act across Canada to ensure the survival and recovery of wildlife species and the protection of our natural heritage.

The listing of a species under SARA provides protection of the residences of at-risk species on federal lands, prohibits the harassment or killing of any individual, and bans the trade or sale of the species. For species listed as endangered or threatened, a recovery strategy must be prepared, within two years of listing, which sets out the recovery goals and objectives and broad approaches to respond to the known threats to the survival of the species.

As a means to implement the recovery strategy, action plans are developed that identify measures to achieve the recovery objectives for the species, ways to preserve and protect residences, and methods to monitor the recovery of the species and its long-term viability. Since SARA came into force, the federal government has carried out the following:

  • added 389 species to Schedule 1 of SARA (that is, as "listed species");
  • posted 25 recovery strategies on the SARA public registry. An additional 150 recovery strategies are currently moving through various consultation approval processes; and
  • 18 action plans for 23 species are under development.

In addition, the federal government's Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) has generated partnerships with over 200 organizations.  Since its inception, the HSP has contributed to the protection of over 240 000 hectares of habitat and to the implementation of protection measures with private landowners (that is, conservation easements, leases, servitudes and covenants) on another 370 000 hectares. Moreover, 207 000 hectares of habitat were improved.

Additional information on species trends in Canada can be found at www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca. For more information on actions under SARA, you can visit www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

Question 11

If the answer to Question 9 is negative please explain why Canada has not signed this vital document and expressed a commitment for its goals?

Response

Canada has signed and ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity and is committed to its implementation and to the achievement of the 2010 target.

Question 12

What limitations and objections would you place, apart from those of Industry lobbyists, to the proposal to making the enforcement penalties of CEPA reflect the gravity of the ecosystem loss?

Response

Penalties provided under CEPA 1999 include fines or imprisonment or both, court orders to accompany a fine or imprisonment, and court orders governing conditional discharge of the offender.

The maximum penalties under the Act include fines of up to $1 million a day for each day an offence continues, imprisonment for up to three years, or both. Violators may also have to pay for clean-up costs or forfeit any profits earned as a result of an offence. Corporate officials can be prosecuted if they authorize, accept or participate in any violation of CEPA 1999 or its regulations.

CEPA 1999 includes criteria for the courts to consider when imposing penalties or court orders. The decision to provide sentencing guidelines in the Act was based on the recommendations of the 1987 Report of the Canadian Sentencing Commission, and is consistent with case law, such as R. v. United Keno Mines. Nevertheless, this is guidance only. The courts are not compelled by the Act to follow CEPA 1999 sentencing principles.

Following a conviction, Crown prosecutors regularly recommend a sentence in each case, after consultation with enforcement officers. Enforcement officials recommend that Crown prosecutors request penalties that are proportionate to the nature and gravity of the offence. When making a recommendation, enforcement officers apply the criteria found in CEPA 1999.

Examples of those criteria are:

  • the harm or risk of harm caused by the commission of the offence;
  • an estimate of the total costs to remedy or reduce the negative effect of any damage caused by commission of the offence;
  • whether or not any corrective or preventive action has been taken or proposed by the offender;
  • whether the offence was committed intentionally, recklessly or inadvertently;
  • whether there was negligence or a lack of concern on the part of the offender;
  • what profits or benefits the offender earned as a result of the commission of the offence;
  • the offender's compliance history; and
  • in the case of an Aboriginal offender, any particular circumstances of the Aboriginal offender.

In addition to considering the criteria for sentencing found in CEPA 1999, enforcement officers recommend a penalty and/or court order that will, in their view, be effective in deterring others from committing the same or other violations of the Act.

Courts are given the power and the discretion, under legislation like CEPA 1999, to impose not only fines and penalties, but also, when sentencing a polluter, to direct monies to be used for various types of environmental purposes, including research and restoration of the environment.

When an environmental offence is prosecuted or a settlement is being negotiated out of court, crown and defence lawyers can recommend that the penalty include a monetary award. The resulting court order can order that this award be deposited into the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF).

The EDF is a special holding or trust account to manage funds received as compensation for environmental damage. Environment Canada is the custodian and administrator of the Fund on behalf of the Government of Canada.

The EDF helps ensure that polluters take responsibility for their actions. It gives courts a way to guarantee that the money from pollution penalties and settlements is directly invested to repair the actual harm done by the pollution.

Environment Canada collaborates with other federal departments, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada, to use the EDF in support of several pieces of environmental legislation, such as the federal Fisheries Act, the Canada Shipping Act, CEPA 1999, and the Canadian Wildlife Act, among others.

Each award directed into the EDF is accounted for separately so that monies will only be used to fund projects in the watershed where the offence has occurred.

Question 13

In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts. Therefore, What is the role of the your Ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

This question will be addressed by Health Canada, as it falls under its mandate.

Question 13c

What amounts of each chemical products in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical industry according to the records of your Ministry [Environment Canada] in 2005?

Response

Environment Canada assesses new and existing substances based on the chemical compound/formula or Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number (please see below for programs overview). Because the products listed in the Supplement are commercial product names and not chemical compound/formulas or CAS numbers, Environment Canada is not in a position to provide the requested information.

New Substances:

The New Substances (NS) program is responsible for administering the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers) and the New Substances Notification Regulations (Organisms) of CEPA 1999. Collectively known as the Regulations, they are an integral part of the federal government's national pollution prevention strategy. As part of the "cradle-to-grave" management approach for toxic substances laid out in the Act, the Regulations were created to ensure that no new substances (chemicals, polymers or animate products of biotechnology) are introduced into the Canadian marketplace before an assessment of whether they are potentially toxic has been completed, and any appropriate or required control measures have been taken.

Any company or individual who plans to import or manufacture a substance subject to notification under the Regulations must provide Environment Canada with a New Substances Notification (NSN) package containing all information prescribed in the Regulations prior to import or manufacture. The type of information required and the timing of the notification will depend on such factors as the type of substance, the quantity that will be imported or manufactured, the intended use of the substance and the circumstances associated with its introduction.

When Environment Canada receives a NSN Package from a company or individual proposing to import or manufacture a new substance, a joint assessment process is carried out with Health Canada to determine whether there is a potential for adverse effects of the substance on the environment and human health. When this process identifies a new substance that may pose a risk to human health or the environment, CEPA 1999 empowers Environment Canada to intervene prior to or during the earliest stages of its introduction into Canada. This ability to act early makes the new substances program a unique and essential component of the federal management of toxic substances.

Existing Substances

CEPA 1999 requires that existing substances be sorted or "categorized" by the Government of Canada to determine which need further attention. Categorization is the first step in scientifically assessing all chemical substances on the Domestic Substances List (DSL). The DSL is an inventory of approximately 23 000 substances manufactured in, imported into or used in Canada on a commercial scale. It is based on substances present in Canada, under certain conditions, between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1986.

Using information from Canadian industry, academic research and other countries, Government of Canada scientists at Health Canada and Environment Canada worked with partners in applying a set of rigorous tools to each of the approximately 23 000 chemical substances on the DSL. The Government of Canada has recently completed this scientific evaluation or "categorization" exercise. The information from categorization is now available and is being used to focus attention on those chemical substances of highest priority for assessment or further research, and those in need of controls to protect human health and the environment. Health Canada and Environment Canada used different but complementary criteria when sorting through the approximately 23 000 substances on the Domestic Substances List (DSL). This was done to make sure that every substance that could potentially affect human health or our environment was evaluated.

Canada is the first country in the world to complete such a major scientific undertaking of this kind. This review determined that 19 000 chemical substances do not need further action. The Government of Canada and chemical producers and users can focus on the 4 000 chemical substances that do require further attention.

The next step for the approximately 4 000 substances includes screening assessment, research and, if needed, measures to control the use of a chemical substance. The Government of Canada will look very closely at these substances and, depending on the results, will move quickly to protect the environment or human health. Further work may also determine that there is no cause for concern about human health and the environment for some of these substances. However, it is important to remember that in many cases more information is required to determine if these substances pose a risk to human health and/or the environment.

The Government of Canada will continue to use the best science available and will work with chemical producers and users, health and environmental groups, and other partners at home and abroad, to ensure we have the best approach possible to protect the health of Canadians and our environment.

The National Pollutant Release Inventory

Environment Canada manages The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), which collects and makes information publicly available from industrial facilities on the releases, disposals and recycling of over 300 pollutants. Reporting is mandatory, under CEPA 1999, for facilities that meet the reporting requirements identified in the annual NPRI Notice in the Canada Gazette.

The NPRI does not require reporting of the identified commercial products in the Supplement. Some of these products, however, contain NPRI substances, in which case the release of the substance in question would be reported to NPRI if the facility was subject to reporting and met the thresholds as outlined in the Notice. NPRI data, substance lists and other information on the program can be found at the NPRI website at www.ec.gc.ca/npri.

Question 13d

What amounts of each chemical product in table 1 and table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Response

Please refer to question Question 13c above.

Question 14

Has the Minister made recommendations under SARA to protect the Burrowing Owl in southern Alberta by extending the prohibition of destruction of burrows in SARA to non-federal species residences throughout the watersheds of the Little Bow, the Oldman and the South Saskatchewan Rivers?

Response

The Burrowing Owl is listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of SARA. Residences on federal lands are protected from damage or destruction under SARA. More information on the definition of Burrowing Owl residences can be found on the SARA registry, at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

In Alberta, Burrowing Owl residences are protected on non-federal lands under section 36.1 of the Alberta Wildlife Act (see www.qp.gov.ab.ca), which reads, "A person shall not wilfully molest, disturb or destroy a house, nest or den of prescribed wildlife".

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Minister's Response: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

26 October 2006

Mr. James Argo PhD
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
P.O. Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Mr. Argo:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding species diversity in the Little Bow River watershed in your June 13, 2006 Environmental Petition No. 172, submitted under the provisions of the Auditor General Act to Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Ms. Gélinas forwarded your correspondence to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for response.

The following is a consolidated response to questions asked to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. More specifically, the response addresses your questions relative to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans' mandate, the application of the precautionary principle, the enforcement of our legislation, and the regulation of chemical products as well as their use.

Mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The federal government has constitutional authority for seacoast and inland fisheries. Legislatively, it has exercised this authority through the Fisheries Act in particular. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible to Parliament for the Fisheries Act.

The Fisheries Act contains provisions to conserve and protect fish habitat defined in subsection 34(1) of the Fisheries Act as "spawning grounds and nursery, rearing, food supply and migration areas on which fish depend directly or indirectly in order to carry out their life processes" and from the harmful effects of human activities, which include the habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions as listed in the attached Annex I.

A key habitat protection provision is subsection 35(1). This section prohibits the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat without an authorization from the Minister or by regulation. Other habitat protection provisions include those dealing with obstructions impeding the free passage of fish, the minimum flow of water for fish and the destruction of fish by means other than fishing.

Staff from DFO's Habitat Management Program in Alberta conduct referral reviews of development proposals situated in and around water. Mostly with respect to section 35. These referrals come to DFO's attention in a number of ways. Proponents, other federal, provincial or municipal resource management agencies, non-government organizations and interested parties can refer development proposals to DFO's Habitat Management Program. In all cases, DFO's review of those development proposals with the potential to cause a HADD of fish habitat is guided by DFO's Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat (1986). The guiding principle of the Policy is "no net loss of productive capacity of fish habitat".

Authorizations pursuant to Subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act are not issued unless DFO is satisfied that this principle has been met. Furthermore, no such authorizations are issued until an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) has been completed, if applicable. Environmental assessments conducted under CEAA include the requirement to coordinate with other Federal departments.

It is important to note that DFO's mandate with respect to natural resource exploitation and development is limited to the protection of fish and fish habitat in the context mentioned above. Natural resource exploitation and development within a province is regulated by provincial authorities.

Section 36 of the Fisheries Act is the key pollution prevention provision. It prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances into waters frequented by fish unless authorized by regulation or by federal laws. As a result of a Prime Ministerial instruction dated November 9, 1978, Environment Canada is responsible for the day to day administration of subsection 36(3) of the Act. Furthermore, the Deputy Ministers of DFO and Environment Canada entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in May 1985, which outlines the administrative responsibilities assumed by DOE.

In addition to the Fisheries Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is also a competent minister with respect to aquatic species in the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Hence, any species that is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened on Schedule 1 of the List of Wildlife Species at Risk benefits from the protective measures enunciated in the SARA.

We understand that you have expressed concern for species at risk. According to our records, there are no aquatic species at risk present in the waterbodies mentioned in your petition. If you possess any evidence that contradicts our records, we would invite you to share this with us.

Application of the Precautionary Principle

With respect to your question concerning the application of the Precautionary Principle, there is no legal obligation under the Fisheries Act to apply the Precautionary Principle. However, the Government of Canada supports the statement in Principle 15 of the "1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development":

    "In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capability. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

This language, and the approach it represents, is consistent with Canadian practice in the field of environmental protection and the approach is increasingly reflected in Canadian environmental legislation, such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Canada also has a long-standing history of implementing the precautionary approach in science-based programs of health and safety, and natural resources conservation. In keeping with Government of Canada's long-standing history, DFO will continue to make sound management decisions that acknowledge and strongly consider the uncertainties that are inherent to development proposals of all types.

With respect to the application of the Precautionary Principle in the context of CEPA, we defer to Environment Canada as this act is administered by the Minister of the Environment.

Enforcement of the Fisheries Act in Alberta

As noted above, responsibility for administering and enforcing the habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act is shared between DFO and EC. A national Compliance and Enforcement Policy was developed jointly by the two departments in 2001. It lays out general principles for application of the habitat protection and pollution provisions of the Fisheries Act, and explains what measures will be used to achieve compliance. It sets out principles of fair, predictable and consistent enforcement that govern application of the law, and responses by enforcement personnel to alleged violations.

DFO personnel carry out two main types of enforcement activity under the habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act—inspections and investigations. The purpose of an inspection is to verify compliance. Investigations are conducted when there is suspicion that a violation has occurred, or when there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence is being or has been committed. A number of responses are available to deal with alleged violations—warnings, directions, orders by the Minister, injunctions, and prosecutions. DFO works closely with EC and provincial counterparts in administering and enforcing the habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. Information sharing is encouraged and joint investigations are not uncommon.

With regard to the Little Bow River and the Red Deer River area specifically, one warning letter has been issued since 2000 relating to "the carrying on of work or undertaking that results in the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat".

Regulation of chemical products and their use

The regulation of chemical substances and their use is not part of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans' mandate. The appropriate use of chemical substances, as indicated by the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), is managed by Health Canada. Hence the response to your question on this subject will be provided by Health Canada.

As for information regarding the production and disposal of chemical products; again, this is not part of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans' mandate. Your questions will be addressed by Industry Canada and Environment Canada in their responses to the questions to Ministers.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]

Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Maxime Bernier, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.

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Minister's Response: Health Canada

25 October 2006

James Argo, Ph.D.
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
P.O. Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Dr. Argo:

This is in response to your environmental petition no. 172 of June 13, 2006, addressed to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Canada.

In your petition, you raised questions regarding the loss of species diversity and resource development, the chemical contamination arising from oil and gas development, and operations in the areas encompassing Vulcan and Sundre, Alberta.

I am pleased to provide you with the enclosed Health Canada portfolio response to your petition, in both official languages. The Ministers of the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Justice, Natural Resources, Industry, Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Public Safety will respond to your other questions covered by their respective departments. Ensuring the health and safety of all Canadians is Health Canada's priority.

I appreciate your interest in these important matters, and hope you will find this information useful.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Tony Clement, Minister of Health and the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario]

Tony Clement

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment
and Sustainable Development

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

The Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Natural Resources

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The Honourable Stockwell Day, P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Public Safety


Health Canada Portfolio Response to Environmental Petition No. 172,
Pursuant to Section 22 of the
Auditor General Act on the
Loss of Species Diversity and Resource Development

Questions Addressed to the Minister of Health

Q1. What is the role of the Federal Minister of Health when natural resource development and exploitation within a Province adversely effects the provisions of the Canada Health Act and other Acts that the Minister administers?

Response

The Canada Health Act is not applicable in the present situation, as it concerns cash contributions by Canada relating to insured health services and extended health care services. A relevant Act is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) which only deals with new or existing substances. While the federal government can intervene through CEPA if the levels of substances released are in violation of a CEPA regulation, at this time there are no CEPA regulations relating to the release of sulfur or raw petroleum compounds from gas flaring operations. The enforcement of such regulations under CEPA would be the mandate of Environment Canada.

Q2. Does the Precautionary Principle enunciated in CEPA apply to the Canada Health Act?

Response

A response to this question requires a legal interpretation. The government does not provide such interpretations to the general public. However, it should be noted that the Precautionary Principle or Approach is generally understood to be a concept applicable to science-based risk management decisions. The Canada Health Act does not require science-based decision making.

Q3. What action will the Federal Minister of Health take to reduce the amount of sulfur flared in Alberta and other parts of Western Canada with significant oil/gas flaring?

Response

This concern is presently addressed under the jurisdiction of the provinces.

In the absence of a risk assessment conducted on a specific substance, responsibility for reducing the amount of sulfur flared in Alberta and other parts of Western Canada lies at the provincial level.

While the federal government can intervene through CEPA if the levels of the substances released are in violation of a CEPA regulation, at this time there are no CEPA regulations relating to the release of sulfur or raw petroleum compounds from gas flaring operations.

The enforcement of such regulations under CEPA would be the mandate of Environment Canada.

Q4. What action will the Federal Minister of Health take to ensure that the amount of raw petroleum fuel flared or vented is reduced?

Response

This concern is presently addressed under the jurisdiction of the provinces.

In absence of a risk assessment conducted on a specific substance, responsibility for reducing raw petroleum fuel flared or vented lies at the provincial level.

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board regulates flaring through performance and reporting requirements, permits, and data collection. This is detailed in their Guide 60 entitled Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring Guide.

While the federal government can intervene through CEPA if the levels of the substances released are in violation of a CEPA regulation, at this time there are no CEPA regulations relating to the release of sulfur or raw petroleum compounds from gas flaring operations.

The enforcement of such regulations under CEPA would be the mandate of Environment Canada.

Q5. Will the Federal Minister of Health conduct a Health Survey in Alberta of the incidence of cancer sites including male and female brain, bone, connective tissue, bladder, kidney, lung, stomach, colon, rectal, thyroid and unknown sites together with male and female reproductive sites, the incidence of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the incidence of cardio vascular disease (CVD), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), ischemic heart disease (IHD), stroke and heart attack both with and without pre-existing diabetes, and kidney and urinary tract diseases with and without pre-existing diabetes based on the geographic unit of the CD (Census District)?

Response

As to whether the Minister of Health will conduct a health survey in Alberta, this is not currently planned, but please note that, in the near future, the Minister will begin a Canadian Health Measures Survey for the purpose of providing a nationally representative set of indicators of chronic diseases, fitness, environmental exposures, nutritional status, infectious disease and risk factors.

The province of Alberta and the Regional Medical Officer of Health could also decide whether or not they wish to conduct a health survey.

Q6. If the health of Albertans specifically, and residents of other Provinces where natural resource exploitation and development is taking place generally, is affected to a measurable extent by the quality of the air they breathe, then will the Minister of Health provide a rationalization of the Health Care Costs as a result of the resource development?

Response

This question is purely hypothetical and, as such, it would not be appropriate for the Minister to attempt to provide a response.

The well drilling work sites in Alberta are not federally regulated. The worker health responsibility falls to the Alberta Human Resources and Employment of the Province of Alberta.

For other than federally regulated workplaces, occupational health and safety (OHS) falls under the jurisdiction of Canada's provinces and territories. In the Province of Alberta, the authority is Alberta Human Resources and Employment and through a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Canada, this Ministry conducts the inspection and enforcement program for the WHMIS requirements of the Hazardous Products Act.

Although, as required by Sub-item 8(4) of Schedule I of the Controlled Products Regulations, the WHMIS Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must disclose information relating to "waste disposal" requirements relating to disposal, and the enforcement of such requirements are outside of the scope of the Health Canada WHMIS program.

Q7a. What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

The well drilling work sites in Alberta are not federally regulated. The worker health responsibility falls to the Alberta Human Resources and Employment of the Province of Alberta.

For other than federally regulated workplaces, occupational health and safety (OHS) falls under the jurisdiction of Canada's provinces and territories. In the Province of Alberta, the authority is Alberta Human Resources and Employment and through a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Canada, this Ministry conducts the inspection and enforcement program for the WHMIS requirements of the Hazardous Products Act.

Although, as required by Subitem 8(4) of Schedule I of the Controlled Products Regulations, the WHMIS Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must disclose information relating to "waste disposal" requirements relating to disposal, and the enforcement of such requirements are outside of the scope of the Health Canada WHMIS program.

Q7b.

(There is no Question 7b)

Q7c. What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Response

The chemical industry is not required to disclose this information to the National WHMIS Office and, thus, the Office is not in a position to have and therefore disclose this information.

Q7d. What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Response

Please see response to Q7c for Minister of Health.

Questions Addressed to the Minister responsible for WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)

Q1. Please provide copies of all the Material Safety Data (MSDS) sheets for all the Commercial products identified in the Supplement?

Response

Supplier labelling and MSDS requirements are set out under the Hazardous Products Act and associated Controlled Products Regulations.

The MSDS must disclose the health and safety information set out in the associated Controlled Products Regulations.

As the Hazardous Products Act does not require suppliers and importers to submit their MSDSs to government as a condition of sale and importation, the National WHMIS Office (which resides in Health Canada) is not in a position to maintain a repository of MSDSs of products marketed in Canada, or to provide product-specific information.

Q2. Please provide assessments for all the proprietary compounds included in the commercial products in the Supplement with respect to their toxicity in the biosphere, specifically for fish, birds, wildlife and humans, at the same time identifying the commercial product in which they are found?

Response

Although the MSDS, (solely a WHMIS requirement in Canada), must disclose information on preventative measures such as "specific engineering controls to be used", "procedures to be followed in case of leak or spill" and "waste disposal", the Controlled Products Regulations do not specify environmental hazard criteria ("end points"), and therefore assessments are not conducted by Health Canada. The objective of the WHMIS is to "ensure the protection of Canadian workers from the adverse effects of hazardous materials through the provision of relevant information while minimizing the economic impact on industry and the disruption of trade"; (reference: Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, Canada Gazette, Part II, Vol. 122, No. 2; January 20, 1988).

Q3. In the event that some of the assessments in Q2 above reveal that an adverse impact on the ecosystem including birds, fish, wildlife and humans, is potentially possible provide the rationale that has allowed or permitted the use of this product in an uncontrolled manner in a workplace that is in the open air.

Response

Please see response to Q2.

Q4. Please provide any other information that will elaborate on the risk to the ecosystem including birds, fish, wildlife and humans posed by using any of the products in the Supplement in the open air.

Response

Please see response to Q2.

Q5. In Table 1, and Table 2 the commercial products used in drilling and developing upstream oil/gas wells are provided. A complete list is included on the large scale copy of the Supplement provided. These products display a variety of toxicological end point properties ranging from benign to neurotoxic, fetotoxic and carcinogenic. We have no knowledge of how they are used or in what amounts.

Response

Please see response to Q7c for Minister of Health.

Q5a. What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site.

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

Q5b

(There is no Question 5b)

Q5c. What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Response

Please see response to Q7c for Minister of Health.

Q5d. What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

Response

Please see response to Q7c for Minister of Health.

Questions Addressed to the Minister of Agriculture

Q1. Table 1/2 Bactericides: There are at least 14 commercial products described by Industry as bactericides. Five of these are associated with use in air. Therefore are these bactericides covered by provisions of the Pesticides Act or any other similar legislation covering the use of fungicides, herbicides or other similar products?

Response

Bactericides for oilfield uses are subject to registration under the Pest Control Products Act. Registered products have been evaluated to ensure that they do not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment. Oilfield bactericides are used to prevent or mitigate problems associated with microbial growth in drilling muds and packer fluids, and during water flooding of oilfields, transport within pipelines, and storage within reservoirs. These registered uses maintain the biocides within closed systems and therefore their exposure to the environment is minimized. No oilfield bactericides are sprayed aerially into the environment.

Q2. Are these bactericides capable of proving harmful to Fish Habitat as defined under the Fisheries Act, either by warming water-borne plants or organisms need by the Species at Risk to survive?

Response

Bactericides can be harmful to certain aquatic species such as invertebrates, algae and fish, if these products were to enter the aquatic environment in sufficient quantity. However, the use patterns of these products maintain them within closed systems, thus minimizing their exposure to aquatic systems and the risk to fish habitat.

Q6a. What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

Questions Addressed to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Q4a. What is the role of the your ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

Questions Addressed to the Minister of the Environment

Q13. What is the role of the your ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

Questions Addressed to the Minister of Industry

Q2a. What is the role of the your ministry of Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

Questions for Ministers

Q3a. What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

Response

Please see response to Q7a for Minister of Health.

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Minister's Response: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada [2003-2006]

25 October 2006

Mr. James Argo
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
P.O. Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Mr. Argo:

This is in response to your petition regarding the loss of species diversity and resource development in Alberta. I am pleased to answer the questions you raised that pertain to the Labour Program of Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

Question 1: What is the role of the federal Minister of Labour when federally registered and regulated companies operate to exploit natural resources in an open-air context?

Answer 1: The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company operating on the Saskatchewan and Manitoba border is the only company of this type that falls under federal jurisdiction. In 1947, it was declared by Parliament to be a work for the advantage of two or more of the provinces. The role of the Minister of Labour is to administer Part II of the Canada Labour Code, which is aimed at protecting the health and safety of the employees.

Question 2: Does this role change when the companies are not federally regulated or registered?

Answer 2: Yes, when companies are not federally regulated the responsibility for the occupational health and safety of the workers shifts to the respective provinces or territories.

Question 3: Does the exploitation and development of natural resources by a federally regulated company create a condition where the Canada Labour Code applies?

Answer 3: The Canada Labour Code applies to the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, which is the only federally regulated company involved in the development and exploitation of natural resources.

Question 4: Under Question 3 above, what provisions of the federal occupational health and safety provisions apply to an outdoor worksite?

Answer 4: For federally regulated companies, the Canada Labour Code and its Regulations apply to all work places including outdoor work sites.

Question 5: How does this change when the companies are not federally registered but operating under contract to federally registered companies?

Answer 5: Federally regulated employers will be responsible for the health and safety of provincial workers on federal work sites insofar as the federally regulated companies are responsible for the health and safety of all people granted access to the work site.

I hope that this information will be useful and thank you for taking the time to write.

Sincerely,

[Originale signed by Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec]

Jean-Pierre Blackburn, P.C., M.P.

c.c.:

The Honourable Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable Stockwell Day, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety

The Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources

Ms. Johanne Gélinas
Commisioner of the Environment and
Sustainable Development

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Minister's Response: Industry Canada

27 October 2006

James Argo, Ph.D.
IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Dr. Argo:

I am writing in response to Environmental Petition No. 172, dated June 13, 2006, seeking information regarding biodiversity and resource development in Alberta. On June 30, 2006, the petition was forwarded by Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, to the ministers of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment, Health, Agriculture and Agri-Food, Justice, Natural Resources, Labour, Public Safety, and Industry.

I am pleased to provide you with Industry Canada's response to the questions that fall within the purview of my department and the specific questions addressed to me as Minister of Industry.

I appreciate your interest in this matter, and trust that you will find this information helpful.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry]

Maxime Bernier


Industry Canada's (IC's) Response to Dr. Argo's Questions Regarding
Biodiversity and Resource Development in Alberta
(Environmental Petition no. 172)

Questions addressed to all ministers falling under the purview of the Department of Industry:

Question 3:

(c)

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian Chemical Industry in 2005?

IC's response:

IC does not collect detailed information of this nature from Canadian producers, but the department does have access to third-party information covering some of the chemicals in question. Resources used in compiling this information are from the Camford Chemical Profiles, SRI Chemical Economics Handbook and industry publications such as Chemical Week and Chemical & Engineering News.

As production information requested is of a very broad range of chemical products, some of the requested chemicals are identified only by their function or tradename; in most of these cases, data is not available. It is only possible to find data when information on specific chemical species has been requested. Please note that the data presented, where available, represents total Canadian nameplate production. Actual production levels in any given year may vary from this number due to factors such as market conditions, plant shutdown for turnaround or unforeseen outages. Also, these numbers represent total production and not production for consumption by the oil and gas industry. In most cases, consumption by the oil and gas industry is expected to represent a small fraction of the total production.

Table A
Chemical Production in Canada by the Canadian Chemical Industry 2005

Chemical Product *

Total Production in 2005 Kilotonnes (kt)

Sodium Hydroxide

1135

Potassium Hydroxide

0

Lime (Calcium Carbonate)

472

Sodium Silicates

190

Linear Alpha Olefin

250

Polyacrylamides

7

Sodium Chloride

12,000

Ammonium Sulphate

620

Calcium Chloride

480

Potassium Sulphate

39

Xanthates

8

Amines (fatty amines)

6

    * Chemical products above have been identified by petitioner.

Questions addressed to the Minister of Industry:

Question 1:

What is the role of the Federal Minister of Industry in the exploitation and development of natural resources when the developments have adverse impacts on human health and wellness and ecosystem health in the context of the precautionary principle?

IC's response:

In all areas of federal activities, government departments are bound by federal laws. The Federal Minister of Industry does not regulate natural resource industry activities in terms of environment and health impacts. In general, those areas are covered by the mandates of other federal government departments such as Environment Canada, Health Canada (HC) and Natural Resources Canada. Further, natural resource industries, as well as other industries that are more indirectly involved in the exploitation and development of natural resources are normally bound by provincial legislation. They may also be covered by municipal regulation in addition to the relevant federal legislation.

The Government of Canada has adopted the precautionary principle in a number of federal statutes. The principle recognizes that the absence of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm. In each case, the principle does not stand alone, being part of an overall statutory scheme, to be interpreted and applied within its statutory context. While IC does not have a mandate with respect to the development of natural resources and its impacts on health and the environment, the department works to improve the understanding of how the precautionary approach can meaningfully contribute towards an effective and pragmatic integration of social, economic and environmental objectives within the scope of departmental objectives. For example, IC contributed in a multi-departmental approach that led to the development of a discussion document in 2001, entitled, A Canadian Perspective on the Precautionary Approach/Principle Discussion Document. For a copy of the document please visit http://www.ec.gc.ca/econom/discussion_e.htm.

IC, like the rest of the Government of Canada, expects and encourages Canadian companies to uphold domestic laws and to generally operate in a transparent and socially responsible manner. While IC does not have legislative responsibilities regarding health and environment impacts associated with the exploitation and development of natural resources, the department promotes sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR) to Canadian industry at a more general level through the development and use of CSR better practices, tools and knowledge. For example, IC in partnership with other federal departments and with input from key stakeholders, helped to develop the Corporate Social Responsibility Implementation Guide for Canadian Business. Both the guide and a range of other initiatives that IC has undertaken to generally support Canadian industry are presented in IC's CSR web site: http://strategis.gc.ca/csr.

Question 2:

(a)

What is the role of the Federal Government in relationship to the stewardship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to ensure that chemicals in these commercial products as described by the associated MSDS are properly used, correctly and responsibly disposed of in an approved manner taking account of the associated hazard of the product MSDS, leaving no residue or excess at the well site?

IC's response:

Please refer to HC's answer to this question in their response to your petition, as the issue falls within the purview of that department.

(c)

What amounts of each chemical product in the Supplement are produced in Canada by the Canadian Chemical Industry according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

IC's response:

Please refer to IC's response to question 3c addressed to all ministers, as it is the same question.

(d)

What amounts of each chemical product in Table 1 and Table 2 of the Supplement are disposed of annually according to the records of your Ministry in 2005?

IC's response:

IC does not collect information on the disposal of the chemical products identified in Table 1 and 2 of the Supplement.

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Minister's Response: Justice Canada—Department of

26 October 2006

Mr. James Argo Ph.D. (Cantab)
IntraAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
P.O. Box 101
Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Mr. Argo:

Thank you for the petition you have filed on behalf of several concerned citizens regarding the loss of species diversity in Alberta and resource development, dated June 13, 2006. This petition was forwarded to the Department of Justice by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. I appreciate being made aware of your views.

I note your specific question regarding the role of the Minister of Justice in prosecuting under the provisions of the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I fulfil two distinct roles: as Minister of Justice I have the lead or shared responsibility for several legal policy areas, and as Attorney General of Canada I am responsible for the prosecution of violations of all federal legislation other than the Criminal Code in the provinces and violations of all federal legislation, including the Criminal Code, in the territories.

With respect to your question, the Department of Justice conducts regulatory prosecutions on behalf of the client departments (in this case, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada) on issues relating to the two acts you refer to in your petition.

Following a thorough examination of your petition and the questions posed to the Government of Canada, the Department of Justice is not in a position to respond to most of your questions. The Department of Justice provides legal advice to the Government of Canada, including each of the departments that you have petitioned, concerning the interpretation of statutes, legal obligations of departments, and legal risk management. This advice is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

Your petition also raises questions that are addressed to the government of Canada and others, which fall within the mandates of other ministers; as such, it would be inappropriate for me to address these questions. I understand that my colleagues from the other departments cited in your petition will be responding to you directly in this regard.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns with the Government of Canada.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Vic Toews, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada]

Vic Toews

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The Honourable Maxine Bernier, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food

The Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Labour

The Honourable Stockwell Day, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety

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Minister's Response: Natural Resources Canada

27 October 2006

James Argo Ph.D. (Cantab)
IntraAmericas Centre for Environment and Health
Box 101, Wolfe Island, Ontario
K0H 2Y0

Dear Dr. Argo:

Thank you for the environmental Petition (#172) of June 13, 2006, which you have filed on behalf of a number of citizens with respect to their concerns about the loss of species diversity and resource development in Alberta. Your petition was forwarded to me by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Natural Resources Canada has reviewed your petition, although no questions were directed to this department. The review has confirmed that your questions are not within the mandate of Natural Resources Canada and are best responded to by those to whom they have been directed.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources]

The Honourable Gary Lunn, P.C., M.P.

c.c.:

Ms. Johanne Gélinas, Commissioner of the Environment
and Sustainable Development, OAG

The Honourable Rona Ambrose,
Minister of the Environment

The Honourable Vic Toews,
Minister of Justice

The Honourable Loyola Hearn,
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The Honourable Maxime Bernier,
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn,
Minister of Labour

The Honourable Tony Clement,
Minister of Health

The Honourable Chuck Strahl,
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The Honourable Stockwell Day,
Minister of Public Safety