Nacmine residents concerned about proposed gas well | DrumhellerMail
Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2024 10am

Nacmine residents concerned about proposed gas well

    A possible development by Bearspaw Petroleum to drill three wells near McMullen Island has residents of Nacmine concerned.
     A number of property owners near the development have received packages on a plan to drill three wells from an existing site metres away from the parking area of McMullen Island and along the walking path from Drumheller to Midland Provincial Park.
    According to the information package, “Bearspaw proposes to drill and complete three directional natural gas wells. Based on successful results of the first well, Bearspaw would then evaluate and decide to drill up to an additional two sweet gas wells. Once drilling is complete, a service rig will be moved onto the location to complete and test the wells.”
    According to a letter from Dan McFadyen, chairman of the Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB),  included in the information package, the company is in the proposing stages and is planning to make an application to the ERCB for an energy development.
    The proposed site is about 80 metres from the Red Deer River. Across the river are residential homes in Nacmine. Resident Jim Decore has concerns about the proposed development.
    “All citizens of Drumheller should be concerned because this is a well that will be less than 100 metres from the  Red Deer River which is everyone’s drinking water. If there is ever some sort of an accident, our river could be contaminated,” said Decore. “They say it is a slim possibility, but I still don’t like the idea of a slim possibility.”
    Another concern is that he characterizes the area of drilling as a place for wildlife, and trees will have to be removed in order to drill.
    “My next door neighbour is a bird counter, and has counted 56 different varieties of birds in the area,” said Decore. “Right now there are 500 geese on the river, there are deer running in there, pheasants, foxes, coyotes and all other kinds of wildlife they will disrupt.”
    He adds the walking trail is well used by residents and visitors alike.
    “It is used steadily by people in the summer time and the winter time because they cross country ski and snowshoe on there, and bike. Living across the river, you hear the voices steady on that trail,” he said.
    Decore said the wells are directional. One leads across Highway 838 into Midland Provincial Park. The other two wells terminate on the east side  and the west side of Nacmine. He said in the area the well bores would be, beneath are a number of mine shafts, and the community is concerned with the possibility of fracking. Even if the well is 1,500 metres below the surface, an old mineshaft can make it a lot closer.
    He said there is often methane in old mine shafts and  a number of vents throughout the hills. He wonders if it is possible that fracking could push the gases up the old mine shafts.
    Another one of his concerns is the noise. He said the drilling site is next to a hill, and the noise of drilling and completing the wells will resonate through the Drumheller community. He remembers when the site was originally developed in the 1970’s.
    “When that well came in, when they flared it, every time they lit that thing it boomed so loud the windows rattled, the dishes rattled in the house and woke our baby up. This went on day and night for three weeks,” said Decore. “They talk about how the ways of flaring have changed over the years, which they probably have with advanced technology but it is still going to be flaring, which is a roaring fire every time they check it out.”
    In his estimation an easy solution is to have the company drill from above the valley.
    “In this day and age of directional drilling they open the wells outside the valley and directional drill right into their area, they don’t need to put well within 100 metres of residences," said Decore.
    He said a number of his neighbours in Nacmine are concerned about the development, especially the safety aspects. He hopes they present a strong opposition to the project to the ERCB.
    “The more work we do prior to them (Bearspaw) applying, I am hoping the more objections the board will see and they will not approve it."
    Bob Curran, communications for the ERCB said currently there is no application to the ERCB and right now the company is fulfilling requirements to apply.
    “They are required to give notification out to a certain radius from the proposed location and also required to consult within the certain proposed location,” said Curran. “That work has to be done before they submit the application.”
    “When they submit their application, they have to let us know if there are standing objections.”
    The next step of the process is to apply to the ERCB, and this is a time when residents can file objections to the board.
    “If people feel they are going to be directly or adversely affected by the development, they can object to it with the ERCB, and that is their best course of action,” said Curran.
    He said there is no definite estimation for how long it takes an application to be assessed. It depends on the nature of the project and objections.
    Mayor Terry Yemen said according to the Municipal Government Act, a company does not need a development permit from a local municipality to develop resources. He said according to the town’s development plan, it discourages any drilling in the valley.
    Calls made to Bearspaw resources were not returned at the time of publication.

The Drumheller Mail encourages commenting on our stories but due to our harassment policy we must remove any comments that are offensive, or don’t meet the guidelines of our commenting policy.