Thursday, October 29, 2009

Alberta residents ‘dancing’ over ruling on sour gas wells-Edmonton Journal

By Darcy Henton,
October 28, 2009
6:56 PM

EDMONTON — Rocky Rapids-area residents are rejoicing after the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled they were wrongly denied their rights to oppose the drilling of a pair of potentially deadly sour wells, 140 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

The court released a decision Wednesday that could dramatically increase the number of people that must be consulted before future wells containing deadly hydrogen sulphide can be drilled in Alberta.

The court ruled the Energy Resources Conservation Board erred Jan. 16 when it decided three women residing in homes three to six kilometres from the Grizzly Resources Ltd. wells failed to show they would be “directly and adversely affected” by the development.

The residents — Susan Kelly, Lillian Duperron and Linda McGinn — claimed they should have a right to oppose the wells because they resided in an area the ERCB defined as a protective action zone (PAZ) where outdoor pollutant concentrations of hydrogen sulphide gas could cause “life-threatening or serious and possibly irreversible health effects.”

The appeal court, which heard arguments Sept. 4 in Edmonton, said the board’s own definition “indicates those who live in a PAZ could have their rights directly or adversely affected as a result of a hazardous release.”

“It is difficult to see how any other conclusion could be available,” said the appeal court panel of Justices Jean Cote, Peter Martin and Myra Bielby. “Should the wells leak and the wind be blowing from the southeast, poisonous gas could be blown over and into the appellant’s homes and farms.”

Although the wells have been drilled without incident, the court said the issue is still relevant because the wells are not yet in production........ continued..........