Water usage and contamination

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves high pressure injection of large volumes of water laced with chemicals and sand into the ground. This process has been implicated in ground water contamination and there have been numerous reports of these chemicals, as well as chemicals released from the deep geological formations, migrating to underground water supplies and even to the soil surface.

Goldenkey states they will use 2,250,000 litres of water for fracking and drilling the exploratory wells and water will be sourced municipally. This drinkable water will be removed from the local water cycle, become waste fluid, and will be trucked and disposed of at a waste disposal facility in Pincher Creek.

Where will the water come from? The City of Lethbridge has stated it has not entered into any agreements for municipal water with Goldenkey. As well, in 2006, a moratorium on new water licences was put in place for the Oldman River basin. Because the Oldman watershed is closed to new surface water allocations, no new licenses will be issued.

Goldenkey reports the following chemicals will be used in the fracking process:


Chemical Risks
Borate salt Causes eye and skin irritation
Cocamido propyl betaine The American Contact Dermatitis Society named Cocamido propyl betaine its allergen of the year in 2004.
Guar gum Petroleum distillates Harmful if swallowed. Can be fatal if ingested.
Causes eye, skin, respiratory irritation.
Can cause skin disorders.
May contain diesel, a known carcinogen.
Methanol Highly flammable. Vapours may form explosive mixtures with air.
The product causes irritation of eyes, skin and mucous membranes.
Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed.
Methanol can cause blindness.
Causes headache, drowsiness or other effects to the central nervous system.
Do not allow product to contact skin, eyes and clothing.
Do not breathe vapours.
Sodium hydroxide Corrosive.
Contact with skin can cause pain, redness, burns, and blistering. Permanent scarring can result.
A severe exposure can cause death.
Burns may not be immediately painful; onset of pain may be delayed minutes to hours.
Contact with eyes causes severe burns with redness, swelling, pain and blurred vision. Permanent damage including blindness can result.
Ingestion can burn the lips, tongue, throat and stomach. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Can cause death.
Sodium metaborate Large amounts can be harmful to plants and other species. Releases to the environment should be minimized.
May cause skin irritation.
May cause eye damage.
Animal ingestion studies in several species, at high doses, indicate that borates cause
reproductive and developmental effects.
Sodium persulphate Causes eye irritation.
May cause skin irritation.
Causes respiratory tract irritation.
Causes gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested