Frac sand does not carry ‘toxic soup of chemicals’

I have waited to hear a reply to the letters to the editor’s and editorials from the upstream service companies concerning the sand spill in Bashaw. Having not seen one, I decided to take on the task of explaining fracture (frac) sand.

I have waited to hear a reply to the letters to the editor’s and editorials from the upstream service companies concerning the sand spill in Bashaw. Having not seen one, I decided to take on the task of explaining fracture (frac) sand.

I am not employed in the industry, having retired a dozen years ago. During my more than 35 years, I was a “fracker,” a adult instructor, a safety practitioner/co-ordinator and, at times, a manager of safety.

Some of the regulations that we had to abide by were two that were omnibus bills: the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Workplace Hazardous Material Information Systems. These regulations cover all aspects of chemical safety outside of personal purchase consumer goods and the Canadian Nuclear Safety and Control Act. These are only a few but they have the most bearing on the Bashaw so-called spill.

To get to the point in question: how toxic is this product?

The good doctor from north seems to have an idea that the sand was already mixed in “a toxic soup of chemicals.” It was not! Sand and liquid chemicals are shipped to the well site in separate containers and are not mixed until the frac job is underway. If for some reason all the sand was not used, it was returned still dry. Hence, no soup.

Children would not play in this sand very long. Frac sand does not clump (stick together) whether wet or dry. Not much fun in a sand box when you cannot make anything other than a slippery hill. The harm caused by sand is extremely slow and would take many years of constant exposure to show a negative result.

Do not breath the dust. Do not ingest it. Brush it off exposed skin. That is what you should do to keep yourself from harm.

It, of itself, does not have a toxic result except through lengthy deliberate exposure.

As for the use of the word “spill,” if a transport returns to the warehouse with a partial load, they can choose, if there is no silo room available, to dump it on there property. That is not a spill. Reporting a spill is covered under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. You do not report a spill of an inert property. And this is how sand is classified under this act. Otherwise all those hills of gravel spread around the counties and later dumped to make or repair roads would have to make out a report. Nothing like new gravel on a country road to produce dusty conditions; conditions you do not see when frac sand is being loaded or pumped.

The Ponoka News editorial of July 30 is highly concerned with the fact that the “spill” was not reported and had to be reported to Alberta Health Services before anything was done.

AHS? They have sent out a health warning about an inert product on private property?

I wonder why. It was mainly a disservice that upset people.

The good mayor of Bashaw had enough sense to see it right and not bash one of their corporate citizens.

This is not part AHS’s expertise nor their mandate. Unless they think that with their poor wait times in hospitals, they will have room for you several years down the road. (Sorry, I could not help myself.)

Leo Belanger

Ponoka

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls on his knees as he skates around Ottawa Senators defenceman Artem Zub (2) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 18, 2021. The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto star Auston Matthews won’t play as Leafs face Oilers

EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Most Read