A Ban on Oil and Gas Flaring and Increased Regulation for Well Sites
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Rampant and nearly unregulated oil drilling and oil flaring have created a toxic and deadly situation across many rural areas of the Canadian prairies, particularly in southeast Saskatchewan where I am from and where my parents still live and ranch.
Thousands of mostly unmonitored oil flares and well sites have been allowed on the Saskatchewan prairie, releasing toxic gases, heavy metals, and radioactivity into the surrounding areas.
This is a call on the Government of Saskatchewan to do the right thing for the citizens of Saskatchewan by instituting a ban on oil flaring.
The oil industry is capable of capturing these toxic gases underground instead of releasing them into the air.
This is also a call for increased and continual monitoring of all the different toxic releases (not just H2S gas) from oil flares, batteries, and pumpjacks in Saskatchewan with real action taken to eliminate releases that are harmful to human or animal health.
This is a call for immediately changed regulations that would increase the allowable distance between oil flares/well sites and people’s homes and businesses. The Sierra Club has found that toxic releases can be found up to 30 kilometres from an oil or gas flare. It is absolutely criminal, then, that the Saskatchewan government allows multiple flares and well sites to be clustered less than half a kilometre from people’s homes!
This is a call for immediately changed restrictions on the number of oil flares that can be clustered onto a small area of land. There are now four oil flares surrounding my parents’ ranch in Saskatchewan. Two of these flares are directly across the road from their house and can be seen from their living room window! With directional drilling these days, there is absolutely no excuse for oil flares, batteries, or well sites being put in this close to people’s homes or businesses.
I ask any member of the Saskatchewan Legislature – would you be OK living in an area choked with oil flares and toxic air quality? Where it’s common and accepted to smell the rank odour of released gases around batteries and flares? Would you be OK with your children playing or walking along a road a few metres from multiple oil flares? Would you purchase a home or a piece of property surrounded by oil flares? I already know the answer to these questions, and that answer is no.
As the Saskatchewan government is aware, the University of Regina journalism school reported on a 2015 audit of 43 oil wells in Saskatchewan (many in the southeast corner) in its documentary titled, "Crude Power: An Investigation Into Oil, Money, and Influence in Saskatchewan." In that audit, poisonous H2S gas was found being released at an average of 30,000 ppm. (Other gases and toxic releases were not even tested!)
The allowable limit for H2S releases is 10 ppm.
The lethal level is considered to be 1,000 ppm!
The highest level of H2S gas found being released by the wells in that audit was 150,000 ppm.
And yet, the Saskatchewan government claimed it found no regulatory breaches by the oil industry that need to be followed up on. How is this possible?
As stated, oil wells and flares have been allowed to dot and mar the landscape throughout the prairie provinces, and particularly in southeast Saskatchewan, my home area. Not coincidentally, there is a cancer cluster and a cluster of ill health in that area, as well. These are my family, neighbours, and friends who are experiencing illness and early death, in large part due to the toxic releases created by the oil industry’s slap-dash methods, allowed to continue via lax or non-existent governmental regulation. These are real people whose lives are being gambled away for oil profits. This is the true cost of oil production in Saskatchewan and across the prairies, a burden being unfairly passed on to the people.
This is a call for the Government of Saskatchewan to do the right thing by tightening up regulations of the oil industry to protect the people. This government allows the sickening and early death of rural people in Saskatchewan if it allows things to go on as they are.
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