Gateway Gazette

Water Appeals Hearing Underway in Turner Valley Today at the Turner Valley Golf Course

 

Two Turner Valley Residents, Roxanne Walsh and Julie Walker, currently have six appeals before the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) (file no.’s 13-022-025, 14-011 and 14-018) regarding concerns they have about the drinking water in Turner Valley.

In spite of numerous challenges and obstacles, such as the withdrawal of their legal counsel and water treatment plant expert in early April, the two Appellants are forging ahead to the Hearing with their remaining expert, renowned Hydrogeologist, Dr. Udo Weyer.

Dr. Weyer 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. In spite of the obvious challenges that were beyond our control the information that we are bringing before the Board is relevant and important.  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.

At the Appellants request, a representative from Alberta Health Services has been subpoenaed by the Environmental Appeals Board to answer questions related to these Appeals.

BACKGROUND

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.

It is likely that 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 in 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.

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  • Cheryle Dobbyn , April 28, 2015 @ 2:59 pm

    Good article….thank you for this. Finally, an actual true statement about the appeal, and why’s, and the wherefore’s. I don’t want to drink mercury or benzene. Pretty simple to me. Tests. So far so good on testing, but the big ‘what if’ is never spoken of so far as I know. The WHAT IF a test comes back contaminated?

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