Council shares residents' concerns over McMullen drilling | DrumhellerMail
Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2024 10am

Council shares residents' concerns over McMullen drilling

    At the January 4, 2012, meeting of the Drumheller Town Council, discussion ensued regarding the expansion of natural gas drilling at McMullen Island. Council shares the concerns of residents and will voice those concerns to the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB).
    Bearspaw Drilling, who currently owns the existing McMullen station, is planning on expanding its operations at the site. As part of its requirements to the ERCB, Bearspaw notified the four residents nearest to the site.
    “I have spoken with several of the residents who live close to the proposed drilling site and they have numerous concerns that I support,” said Councillor Garbutt. “I think the residents for all of Drumheller, not necessarily the ones close to the drilling site, have every reason to be concerned.”
    “I understand the concerns of the people of Nacmine, and if I lived in Nacmine I would have those same concerns,” said Mayor Terry Yemen.
    Concerns regarding the proposed project include the noise that will be generated during the initial construction and when routine flaring occurs and the danger of contamination to the entire water supply of Drumheller.
    Flaring would occur for 4 hours each day and to access one of the natural gas reservoirs, Bearspaw would drill underneath the Red Deer River.
    “Whenever someone is using the fracking process, there are concerns that there is going to be contamination that was unintended. Because they can’t provide us with a 100 per cent guarantee that won’t occur, we should all be in opposition of this when there is a threat to our water supply,” said Councillor Garbutt.
    “We have an abundance of natural gas in Alberta,” said Mayor Yemen. “I would have to ask why do they want to drill in the Valley when it can be accessed all over Alberta. I think they have other options.”
    The Town of Drumheller has begun drafting a formal letter to express their opposition to the proposed expansion of natural gas extraction at McMullen Island.
    However, as part of the Municipal Government Act, the Town of Drumheller does not have the jurisdiction to outright stop the drilling from taking place.
    “The Municipal Government Act allows them to drill, they don’t need our permission. So we’re going by our bylaws and saying we strongly discourage the drilling of wells in the Valley,” said Mayor Yemen.
    “The ERCB is, unfortunately, not required to live by our wishes. They have jurisdiction. All we can do is tell them in the strongest words possible that we’re not in favour of this, it’s a long standing position of Council,” said Councillor Garbutt.
    Concerned residents will  be sitting down with Bearspaw and a ERCB facilitator to discuss the matter as part  of the Appropriate Dispute Resolutions (ADR) process on January 18 at 10:00 a.m. in the Nacmine Hall.
    Should there be any unresolved issues from that meeting, Town Council may meet with the ERCB directly and discuss the matter further. Should the meeting and formal letter be unsuccessful, further steps may be taken.
    “If there’s unresolved issues, we would sit down with the ERCB,” said Mayor Yemen. “We could lobby through the provincial government through our MLA.”
    Council encourages all residents to fill out the Objecting to an Energy Resource Project form, found on the ERCB website,, and send it to the ERCB, the idea being that numerous letters will have a far greater effect than a few. The form can be found in the public zone of the website, in the Enerfaqs section.
    “There’s a means right there to object and that’s how residents should address it, and they should,” said Mayor Yemen.

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