BC announces hydraulic fracturing scientific review panel

Fracking in Northeast B.C. Nexen photo.

Panel will include three scientists and one Indigenous adviser

The British Columbia government has appointed an independent panel for scientific review of hydraulic fracturing to ensure it is meeting the highest safety and environmental standards, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall, according to a press release.

The review will be carried out by a three-member independent panel consisting of a professor of hydrogeology, a geological engineering professor and a geological engineer/geophysicist.

“Protecting our air, land and water is central to our government’s direction of sustainably developing the province’s resources and creating jobs for British Columbians,” said Mungall. “We know British Columbians have questions about hydraulic fracturing. It’s our job to make sure that natural gas operations continue to meet world-class standards and best practices for environmental protection.”

The appointment of the panel follows through on the government’s commitment to conduct a science-based review of the hydraulic fracturing process. Specifically, the panel will look at the role of hydraulic fracturing as it relates to induced seismicity and its impacts on water quantity and quality.  It will also look into fugitive methane emissions that may occur in the process of hydraulic fracturing.

“The scientific panel will look at the process of hydraulic fracturing used to extract B.C.’s natural gas, review our regulations and provide recommendations to minimize risks to the environment,” said Mungall.

The scientific review panel is responsible for hearing presentations and collecting scientific evidence from organizations and experts, as well as traditional Indigenous knowledge from First Nations. Information and evidence will be collected from academics, industry associations, northeast B.C. communities, Treaty 8 First Nations and environmental organizations.

Nalaine Morin will provide advice to the panel on traditional Indigenous knowledge. The panel will compile all information obtained, and provide findings and advice to the minister before the end of the year.

Diana M. Allen, P. Geo

Allen (PhD, 1996, Carleton University) is a professor in the department of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses broadly on water security, spanning the development of risk-assessment methodologies to understanding and projecting the potential impacts of climate change on water resources.

As a hydrogeologist, Allen conducts field- and numerical modelling-based research that aims to link hydrological and hydrogeological processes in diverse, geological settings.

Allen has led several projects in Northeast B.C. that encompass the assessment of risk to shallow groundwater, the groundwater potential of buried valley aquifers, the migration of saline wastewater during deep disposal, and the sustainability of surface water under scenarios of increased demand and climate change.

Erik Eberhardt, P. Eng

Eberhardt is a professor of rock mechanics and rock engineering, and the director of the geological engineering program at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the integration and advancement of field geology, innovative monitoring, experimental rock mechanics, and state-of-the-art numerical modelling applied to geological hazard problems encountered in deep mining, unconventional gas and rock-slope engineering projects.

He has published over 200 technical papers, was the 2013 recipient of the John A. Franklin Award for outstanding technical contributions to rock mechanics and rock engineering, and the 2017 recipient of the Thomas Roy Award for outstanding contributions to the field of engineering geology in Canada.

Amanda Bustin, PhD

Bustin is a research associate at the University of British Columbia and the president of Bustin Earth Science Consultants. Bustin holds degrees in geological engineering (BASc, 2001) from the University of British Columbia and a PhD (2006) in geophysics from the University of Victoria. She is currently working as a researcher and professional consultant on a variety of unconventional gas projects, with a main focus on induced seismicity and reservoir development. Bustin has broad experience in reservoir fluid evaluation, including extraction, injection, storage and disposal.

Over the last 15 years, Bustin’s professional experience has included working with a variety of small and large petroleum and environmental companies as a technical advisor, providing engineering and geophysics oversight and analysis on fluid extraction, storage and disposal projects. She has experience in most major basins in North American and has worked internationally on diverse projects.

Adviser to the panel: Nalaine Morin

Morin is nationally recognized for her work in environmental assessment. She has led and managed the environmental reviews of several large resource development projects on behalf of First Nations.

Morin works with First Nations across Canada on projects as varied as mining, pipelines and highway infrastructure. In 2009, Morin’s expertise was recognized by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency when she was selected as a panel member for the review of a major mining project in B.C. Morin has been asked to speak at several conferences, both provincially and nationally. In 2013, she shared a keynote address discussing impact assessment at the International Association of Impact Assessment conference, and was a featured speaker at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference.

Morin holds a bachelor of applied science from the University of British Columbia and a mechanical engineering technology diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Morin also holds certification as an environmental professional, certified by the Canadian Environmental Certification Approvals Board.

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