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

Just Posted

Several Red Deer business phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

School council association wants funding review

Funding needed to build more Red Deer schools

UPDATED: Red Deer MPs speak to the business community

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce host Breakfast with the MPs

Cops to serve crêpes for Special Olympics in Red Deer

Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) officers will serve crêpes and other Cora’s… Continue reading

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Most Read