Let’s say we saw in the news most of the tires imported to Quebec leak, or that all the dams built in Quebec leak or that all boilers fabricated in Quebec need to be inspected for leaks or that the ground itself is leaking methane to the surface between Montreal and Quebec.
You won’t see any of that in the news but it’s all true and it’s all normal.
Tires allow molecules of air to seep through the side walls. This is why they need to be checked and air added from time to time. Small leaks are fixed all the time without fuss. Even flat tires are repaired. Of course if a tire had a blow out it could cause an accident, which if serious would be news.
The weight of the water behind a dam forces water down into the earth and some of it leaks around, below and some even ‘sweats’ through the concrete. It’s called seepage. Dams are engineered for all of this and inspected for major flaws that could cause them to burst, which would for sure make the news.
Boilers hold a lot of pressure and it is important to inspect them regularly and carry out maintenance on them. If a boiler was not inspected and it exploded, it could hurt people which could be in the news.
Natural gas is generated from shale and the shallow Queenston shale in the St. Lawrence Lowlands is just below the ground water. It has been generating thermogenic methane for millions of years which has leaked in to ground water and to the surface. Farmers were the first to find natural gas in Quebec because it’s in their water wells. It can also be seen dramatically at Fontaine du Diable and the festival in Lotbinière where the sand is lit on fire. Water taps on fire have been in the news but the inventor of this news knew all along that people could light their taps on fire in 1936 as you will see in this video.
What we have seen in the news instead is that 19 of 31 natural gas wells have leaks. Quel scoop! So do tires, dams, boilers, the earth and a lot of other things that pose no material danger to safety or the environment.
However, industry has not done a good job of communicating this issue. It is fair for Découverte to investigate and they asked the right questions and avoided trying to blame the fraccing myth. In answer, there is room to improve cementing and a few of the wells in Quebec actually do require preventative maintenance. It is good this is being publicized and there can be discussions on the right standards for Quebec.
The 19 of 31 number is not fair though. The government used a methane detector not an industry standard bubble test. They made the incredible discovery you can detect natural gas at natural gas wells and called them leaks. We are very surprised they didn’t manage to detect methane at all the wells. Government has since performed a detailed review and confirmed that to date only two wells required preventative maintenance.
Canadians are the best in the world at on shore natural gas development. With little research it is not hard to discover the engineering design and inspection practices related to natural gas seepage. It is normal to have methane seepage and this was part of industry memoirs to the BAPE and it is on the QOGA web page and it has been on the Government of Alberta web page for years. It is hardly a secret or news. Environmentalists remind us often that fugitive emissions need to be improved. Industry has improved and with improving technologies, can improve more.