I am writing to comment on the lack of respect and transparency with which the large oil and gas companies are carrying out their seismic exploration with our government’s support. Also, I wanted to share my recent experience that came as a result of Windsor Energy’s seismic exploration in my community outside Sussex.
On Friday morning, September 30th, I was surprised to find seismic equipment strategically placed along the side of the road in front of my house. My mother and I were shocked and a little scared; why weren’t we informed they would be doing testing? What were these things; they looked dangerous?! Through many inquiries on my part, I managed to learn the equipment were ‘geophones’ that record data from so-called ‘thumping’ trucks that send vibrations into the ground.
I wrote to Margaret-Ann Blaney and Bruce Northrup to find out why residents were not told about the testing. Also, to inquire what was happening and whether we should have had our water tested. Our water well happens to be only 10 m from road side; if seismic testing was done via vibration truck, it could have meant damage.
Blaney gave me no answers, but had a worker within the Department of Natural Resources call me. Among other things, he politely informed me that their exploration was on Department of Transportation right-of-ways and not on my land. I assumed, this meant, they didn’t have to tell us. Sure, the equipment may not have been on our land (marginally not; see the picture), but for sure they were exploring under our property.
Bruce Northrup did respond, yet his reply was, “The company[’]s communication has been terrible with this area and we have talked to them about it.” More disturbing, is “this area” was his community; he didn’t even know the exploration was occurring until other people called to inquire. It does not inspire confidence that the government is able to regulate these companies on the simplest of requests such as; transparency, information, or notice to residents.
As the company crew came to pick up their seismic equipment earlier this week, blasting Aerosmith so loud it echoed off the houses at 8 am, and yelling curses at me as I took pictures, I was left wondering, “Who will protect the public from the continued abuse from these companies?” Apparently, the government is unwilling or unable to enforce something as simple as a public notice to those communities experiencing seismic testing. What hope do we have that our water or homes will be protected? Will the government step-up and start protecting the public’s interests?
Tiffany Thornhill is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Management at the University of New Brunswick.