Media Release – May 2, 2015 Submitted by Roxanne Walsh
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Turner Valley Water Hearing is over, Board to make its recommendation to the Minister within 30 days
Two Turner Valley Residents, Roxanne Walsh and Julie Walker, brought 6 appeals (EAB file no.’s 13-022-025, 14-011 and 14-018) related to the Turner Valley drinking water, before the Environmental Appeals Board at a Hearing in Turner Valley, Alberta, April 28-May 1, 2015.
The Appellants have demonstrated at great length problems with the Town’s reports, all of which were accepted at face value by Alberta Environment.
Alberta Environment nor the Town requested nor reviewed ANY of the available reports that describe the types of waste generated at the 100 year old gas plant, nor the disposal practices used, before making their decision to approve the Water Infiltration Gallery project.
The Director has little confidence that Alberta Environment will be able to obtain TRUE and accurate information from ConocoPhillips about their Partially Remediated Industrial landfill which was used as one of the receptacles for waste generated at the Gas Plant and is located directly across the river from the water intake.
Neither the Town, nor Alberta Environment can conclusively demonstrate the groundwater flow direction at the Infiltration Gallery area and therefore has not confirmed the drinking water is not at risk from contamination from the surrounding area.
Drinking water standards used by Alberta Environment consider “acceptable risk” for exposure to chemicals over a life span of 70 years. However, the Appellants demonstrated that studies confirm some chemicals can have unpredictable, delayed, life-long effects on individuals or their offspring.
After the Environmental Appeals Board sends its report and recommendations to the Minister of Environment, the Minister has 30 days to make a decision.
Dr. Weyer the Appellant’s scientific expert says: “This case is likely important to the future of drinking water in small communities in Alberta as well as Turner Valley.”
Roxanne Walsh says:” Turner Valley is like no other community in Alberta because of its one hundred year history of oil and gas development and waste practices. Turner Valley deserves to know the drinking water is safe from the impacts of this history. It’s an important case.”
Julie Walker says: “Turner Valley has contributed greatly to the wealth of Alberta. The Town deserves the best in source water protection. If the results of this hearing could leave a legacy of modern technologies to address industrial issues related to the oil and gas industry in Alberta, it would be something all Albertan’s could be proud of.”
The Appellants are raising money to pay their expert on the JusticeFundr crowdsource funding platform. https://justicefundr.ca/?p=1735
Alberta Environment granted the Town of Turner Valley an approval in 2014 to locate the Town’s drinking water intake across from the partially remediated industrial landfill used by the Turner Valley Gas Plant in the 1930’s to mid 1970’s. It was in use long before any regulations were in place related to the management of such sites.
The Town’s consultants in 2011 raised the risk from “moderate” to “high” for contaminants to be in the groundwater and the numerous oil and gas pipelines and wells just a short distance from the water intake. The Director of Alberta Environment gave the Town an Approval even though this information was before him when he made this decision.
The Appellants are concerned that not enough is known about the partially remediated landfill and that the Director made his decision without addressing gaps in the information that the Appellants and their expert, Dr. Weyer, have identified.
Liquid waste was dumped in the industrial landfill; however the only information that appears to be available in the Alberta Environment file is soil chemistry and nothing related to groundwater contaminants at the landfill.
The Appellants are also concerned that Alberta Environment granted an approval to reduce testing frequency of additional testing parameters for contaminants that were as a result of Walsh’s appeal in 2008 (EAB file no. 06-071). They believe the Director’s decision did not include enough relevant and available information about the area related to the water intake and the contamination legacy in Turner Valley.