Letters to the Editor

Monday, 31 October 2011

Another Potash Mine

By Phyllis Hart

Premier Alward is eager to open another potash mine near Sussex.  According to the King’s County Record (week of Oct. 11) the mayor and at least two councillors are eager for the economic spin-offs the development would bring.  This is despite the unresolved problems that have occurred in relation to the three existing potash mines in the area – Cassidy Lake, Penobsquis, and Picadilly.  The mining engineers at the mine see the flooding of the mines as the problem.  The Potash Corp. has spent a lot of money and effort to remove the water from the mines by trucking it away and building a pipeline in order to continue mining.  They have also attempted to grout the leak areas to prevent the water from entering the mines – with little success.  Meanwhile the people of Penobsquis have lost their well water.  Others have had their drinking water roiled and made undrinkable.  Some houses and other structures have shifted on their foundations and sink holes have opened up in the fields.
The people of Penobsquis have been without their well water since 2004 – some wells went dry as early as the late 90s.  For a time the Potash Corp. supplied drinking water to the residents while the government delivered utility water which was stored in tanks in their basements.  The company claims no responsibility for the loss of the well water but say they’d be willing to pay if it could be proved that the mining operations are responsible.  So far the costs have been borne by the residents.  A community water supply piped in from from several kilometers up the road is now in place but the people of Penobsquis have to pay for it, despite the loss not being their fault.  The problem of the shifting earth remains. In addition to the water woes they have the gas wells to deal with.  The people of Penobsquis and the surrounding area believe that hydrofracking is a further assault on their water, property values, soil, air, and way of life. 
The government whom we elect to look after our interests seem to be seem to be making sure the new mines and gas drilling  throughout the province proceed at all possible speed without first solving the problems  experienced by the people of Penobsquis.
The Penobsquis  group is led by Beth Nixon who herself has experienced  damage to her property – including the loss of her water and shifting of her home. All pleas to the government to force the Potash Corp to pay restoration have gone unheeded except for the appointment of a mining commission hearing being held at intervals in Sussex.
Ms Nixon and her neighbours have few resources to pay for lawyers for a drawn out hearing of this nature.  The government seems to have set itself up as a co-defendant with the Potash Corp.,   and is careful  not to accept any responsibility for the damage and  cites these projects as being vital to the economy – providing jobs, and resource income. Beth and her neighbours are just collateral damage – sacrificed for the good of the majority.
On Oct. 12 this year I attended the mining commission hearing as one of an audience of about 50.  Beth Nixon Herman Hawthorne, and Cynthia McEwen…….. were representing the group.  There were no high priced lawyers on their side of the room.  On the other side of the room were Michael Hogan and Brian Roulston. of the Potash Corp and Peter Zed representing the corporation.  The mining commissioner sat at the front in the room in the role of judge.  He asked no questions, took few notes, twiddled his foot in what looked like boredom, and nodded agreement whenever Mr. Zed objected to a question.  The witness sat with his back to the audience speaking into a microphone for recording purposes.  It was difficult for those of us behind him to hear his responses clearly.  The witnesses on the day I attended were two mining engineers who had previously or still did work at the mine.  Their job included mine inspections and making sure the mining act was followed.  It did not, they both testified under oath, include monitoring the effects of the mining operations on the people of the community.  Both of these witnesses, I might add, were not employees of the Potash Corp but the Department of Natural Resources (our government employees, paid with our tax dollars).
I was impressed by Beth Nixon and her team who were well prepared with documents and pertinent questions. They maintained their aplomb when Mr. Zed objected to some of their questions. Taking time, they carefully reworded questions as needed to get a response and calmly accepted answers that left me shaking my head.  When Mrs. Nixon asked  a witness if he had felt any responsibility for how people in the area were affected, he said that he thought the Environment Dept. was looking after that.  When asked if he ever inspected the mine at Penobsquis he said, no, that it was the responsibility of the mining company to report any “unusual events”.
Water flowing into the mine was such an unusual event.  A study was commissioned to find out if the water going into the mine was coming from community wells which were going dry.  The witness reported that the study was inconclusive so he did not read it all.  Even more distressing to me was the number of times both witnesses said they didn’t know the answer, couldn’t remember, or that they weren’t experts on the topic and couldn’t speak on it with any authority (e.g. subsidence).
The mining engineers were interested in stopping the water from flowing into the well or finding a way to get rid of it. That it might be a community’s water supply was of no interest.  That was up to the Environment Dept. It is hard for me to believe that they work for us.
If the next potash mine – one of many planned by this government  - is allowed to go ahead before concerns of the people of Penobsquis are addressed, it will be an act of a desperate government attempting to curry favour with big business instead of looking after the people of New Brunswick.  I think we can expect more collateral damage.

The shale gas gold rush for oilfield service companies

In an article during June of this year, Bloomberg business news pointed out how onshore gas drilling has surpassed the offshore industry, creating a boom for producers, but also a backlog for personnel to work their drilling sites, allowing oilfield service companies to drive up prices. It seems, however, producers can afford cost increases since no let up in demand is expected until 2013. Click on the link below for the full article.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Company claims safe way to remove contaminants from aquifers damaged by shale gas

Calgary-based company, McMillan-McGee Corp, is a company wholly dedicated to the complete remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater through it's patented process of ET-DISP, or Electro-Thermal Dynamic Stripping Process.

It works by electrical power heating the subsurface of the damaged area with electrodes. They are placed at various depths and locations optimized to the unique dimensions of a site. Electrical current to each electrode is controlled continuously by computer in uniform heating of the target contamination zone, making solvents runny enough to be pumped to the surface. Unlike many remediation processes in the oil and gas industry today,  ET-DISP doesn't require large quantities of fresh water to remediate soil and ground water.

Company founder Bruce McGee created the ET-DISP model in 1995, where other processes were found wanting, when it came to removing contaminants left subsurface from underground operations from the oil and gas companies in Alberta.

Company Vice-President Brent Winder said this technology is also feasible for removing contaminants from underground aquifers damaged due to shale gas fracking, as long as the toxic substance is a liquid. It doesn't work, for example, for removing contaminants from solids such as salt deposits.

For more information, you can click on the following line to go to the company's website: http://www.mcmillan-mcgee.com/mcmillan-mcgee/index.php

Friday, 28 October 2011

La gaz de schiste situation en recent a Quebec

Contact Windsor Energy Corp:

E-mail CEO Khalid Amin:   khalid@windsorenergy.ca

Telephone: 403 233 0496

Fax: 403 269 4339

Snail Mail:

Windsor Energy Corp
1120-444 5 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 2T8

Pointing out the obvious - province must tighten regs on shale gas exploration

Interesting article from an Atlantic Canadian blog entitled, The Bruce Report, on the shenanigans of Windsor Energy Corp in Sussex, and the need for the province to close the loophole for energy companies looking to get around shale gas regs, by using DOT.

Document showing mapping for NB mining, oil and gas along with players

In November 2010, the Department of Natural Resources received presentations from various companies and geology experts pertaining to plans for the province's mineral and petroleum industries. The following link is to an online abstract with presentations outlining company plans for the province in their respective fields, along with mapping for each presentation. Geologists also weigh in throughout the abstract. It is interesting to note, the report was prepared by the Lands, Minerals and Petroleum Division of DNR, the head of which is deputy minister Sam MacEwan, the gentleman being berated in this blog's videos from the Calvin Tillman talk.

DNR investigation into possible Windsor Energy misconduct delayed, but...

We were wondering if any of you have seen DNR investigators in the disputed areas of Sussex and Hampton?

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said the department currently has staff in the office and in the field examining the situation.

If any readers have seen any DNR employees in their community, please let us know, or send photos if you have them. Thanks. - ED.

DNR webcast from yesterday

(Click on link above and go to right of page to find webcast)

A view from the industry - Recent study on water wells in Arkansas

Initial results being reported of a recent water well study done in Arkansas by the US Geological Survey which shows no noticeable impact of the shale activity on water wells tested.

The highlights:

1.       In June, the US Geological Survey announced they would be studying water wells in part of Arkansas to look for any possible link between drinking water concerns and natural gas drilling.

2.       In July, they tested 71 wells and sent the samples to Duke University for analysis.

3.       In early October, they released their initial findings in a media interview (http://www.todaysthv.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=176634).

4.       They found no noticeable impact on 71 water wells tested in Van Buren County, Arkansas.  “The short of the story is we didn’t find any indication of impacts of the shale gas.”

5.       20 of the wells were tested for methane and found no thermogenic gas.

6.       The wells away from the drilling activity had about the same concentration of chemicals as the ones closer.

7.       Final study results will be released in about six months.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Scenes From the Corn Hill Protest

- photos courtesy of Jane Bradbrook and Mellisa Gallant

Report on the Corn Hill Protest

Press release

CORN HILL - The residents of Corn hill and surrounding areas publicly protested today the invasive activity of  a shale gas seismic exploration crew in their neighborhood. The residents blocked one lane of Route 890, centering on the seismic line that has been cut through their community, with a long line of tractors, trucks, cars and sign-carrying pedestrians.

"We've come out today to make it clear to this exploration crew, and the company that hired them, Corridor Resources, that we are not interested in having shale gas exploration in our community," said Jane Bradbrook, a local resident. "There are numerous potential dangers to our land and drinking water from this seismic activity, and it is very disappointing that the companies and the provincial government are not listening to our concerns."

The seismic exploration crew arrived in the Corn hill area last week, much to the consternation of local residents, to begin exploring for natural gas trapped in the shale rock beneath Corn Hill and the surrounding area. The seismic exploration line bisects the Corn Hill valley, through several private properties and a much-used community pasture.

"I'm worried that the seismic exploration crew is not is not being as forthright as they should be," said Karl von Waldow, a dairy farmer and landowner in Corn Hill. "I had to seek advice from my lawyer when I discovered the exploration crew trying to clear along a "right-of-way" that doesn't exist on my land. My lawyer has advised them to cease and desist, because property documents don't support their claim that there is a right-of-way that they can access. How can we be assured that the companies involved have respected the rights of landowners."

Bob Osborne, owner of Corn Hill Nursery, is concerned about the effect this activity could have on the quality of the plants that he sells at his nursery. "I've been growing high-quality organically-grown plants, shrubs and trees on this property for over 30 years. The potential effects of this seismic activity on our water could be ruinous for my business, not to mention the health of my family."

Corn Hill is a rural agricultural and residential community northwest of Moncton, in southern New Brunswick. It is a pastoral area of rolling fields and farm. The principal economic sector for the area is agriculture.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Who is Windsor Energy Corp?

Not to be confused with American oil and gas company Windsor Energy Inc, Windsor Energy Corporation is a Canadian outfit in the same industry based out of Calgary, Alberta. It began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) on November 27, 1996.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the company, "...was primarily engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of oil and natural gas properties, as of September 30, 1998. The company had properties in the United States and Canada."

On November 6, 2009, registered securities of Windsor Energy Corp were revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for repeatedly failing to file required quarterly and annual reports, violating federal securities law that requires public corporations to publicly disclose current, accurate financial information for investors to make informed decisions. The revocation was ordered after hearing by an administrative law judge. You can see the document here: http://cto-iov.csa-acvm.ca/ArticleFile.asp?Instance=101&ID=8CA6DA1DDBC3495B923C33E6C0146B7C

The Bloomberg publication also shows no listings for any personnel in the company, i.e. there is no listing for members of the board, executive committees or the management of the organization itself.

The address information for Windsor Energy Corp is listed as 444-5th Avenue, Suite 1120, Calgary, AB, T2P 2T8. The phone number is 403 233 0496, but when this publication attempted to call the company through that number, an interactive voice recorder said it was unavailable at the present time.

When this publication contacted Jennifer Pritchett, a Telegraph Journal reporter who has written recent articles on Windsor Energy, she stated she had a hard time getting her contact number for company CEO Khalid Amin, and didn't want to give the number out, lest, we understood, Amin disliked it and ceased being a source. The number she used wasn't the regularly posted one found in online searches for the company, but Amin's cell phone.

Traded under the stock symbol as WNS, the company has been de-listed from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), as well as the Alberta Stock Exchange (ASE), and stopped voluntarily making company documentation public through www.sedar.com, an online research company for investors, with its last posting of a press release on April 15, 1999. It's assets are quoted on the site at that time as being a maximum of $100,000,000. It was listed as having no principal regulator.

The sedar site has no listing for personnel. It was only given an employee contact name by the company, that of Kuldip C. Baid. However, in other online documents, Baid's name is listed alongside board members.

Further research of Baid on Bloomberg Businessweek shows he is 63 years old and collected $129,632 CDN in executive compensation as of fiscal year 2011 for the position of CFO, Teras Resources Inc. The profile mentions Baid moved on to KIK Polymers Inc in April 29, 2011. He was the CFO of Windsor Energy from 1981 to 1986; dated information that is in keeping with the company's light internet signature.

At Halliburton Watch, a blog that keeps track of litigation by the company, Halliburton filed a civil action against Windsor Energy Corp during November 1998 for an undisclosed amount owed in Harris County District Court, Texas.

As a company with assets that once reached $100,000,000, the internet footprint of Windsor Energy Corp is a rather light one. It has no website, has no logo, isn't mentioned on Wikipedia and public documentation through Google goes cold with the above-mentioned 1999 press release. Nor is it a member of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the preferred lobby group of 90% of Canadian oil and gas industry companies.

It would seem Windsor Energy Corporation went from being a $100 million company at the turn of the century, to being a smaller operator in the past decade. Documentation doesn't seem to be available online explaining the company's decline. A request for further information has been lodged with the Natural Gas Group, the province's natural gas regulator.

UPDATE: The Natural Gas Group suggested we contact DNR for that information. We checked the DNR natural gas website, however, nothing is mentioned about Windsor Energy Corp., not even in the list of companies mentioned under the heading Current Exploration on the website.

We would love to contact DNR and request its Communications team provide us with any information it currently has on file about Windsor energy that can be released to the public. However since we are frozen out of their loop, we expect it would be a fools errand.

Given what we have found on our own with  simple online research, we wonder what the province had access to in order for it to make the decision to grant Windsor Energy a license to work in the province.


This publication regrets any offence caused to Occupy personnel when a Facebook technical glitch we were unaware of created the impression to us were were banned from their pages. We announced the ban in error and have since removed it from this blog, our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

However, no compromise has been forthcoming by Occupy administrators in taking responsibility for the original error that led to this entire misunderstanding, that is, making no announcement that an event scheduled for yesterday had been cancelled, causing us great inconvenience. Instead Occupy has refused to grant our request to post a missive on their pages whenever an event is cancelled to alert members of the importance of avoiding the inconvenience to others. Rather, Occupy administrators were difficult throughout our exchange to the point of bullying and insulting us on our own Facebook page with the help of their colleagues.

As such, we have chosen to no longer publicize or cover Occupy events, news or information. We have stripped our Facebook page, blog and Twitter feed of past Occupy coverage and have no plan to report on future happenings with Occupy in its entirety. - ED.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT - Cornhill residents to protest

The Cornhill Area Residents association will be protesting seismic testing currently taking place in the community. starting at 8 am tomorrow morning on route 890.  The group will be gathered along the road between Cornhill Nursery and VonWaldo's Dairy.

A planning meeting is scheduled for this evening at the town hall. For more information contact Jane Bradbrook via cell at 380 5602.

CBC News New Brunswick - Tillman interview

CBC.ca - Potash probe set to begin in Millstream


CBC.ca - Hampton Water First doing public shale gas meetings


Monday, 24 October 2011

Our shale gas reading list

Some excellent articles have been sent to us by readers as of late. We are trying to plow through them as best we can, but can't always get to everything. So, we thought we would publish the links for your perusal, in order that you may inform yourself, or others, on the subject of shale gas. We added a description of the material to accompany each link. Happy reading everyone!

Below is a link to an excellent article on the current Mining Commission hearings regarding Penobsquis by Lawrence Wuest. Mr. Wuest has attended several of the hearing dates and lends an informative background with this article from the NB Media Coop:


This next article is also from the NB Media Coop. It is an editorial by Chris Walker about the sturm und drang of capitalism vs. environmentalism:


Two articles were submitted to us from Upstream Online, an oil and gas industry publication. The articles can be accessed if you get a free trial offer for a few weeks. They are worth your while since they speak directly to industry players that can affect investment in the industry in NB.



This article was written by respected American environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. discussing the mobilization of corporate spin on shale gas. It mentions the biggest player here in the NB shale gas industry, SWN Resources, in a positive light:


We will be adding more to our reading list as time goes on and will share them with you. Thank you. - ED.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Calvin Tillman lecture at UNB: Tillman talks chemical run-off

Giving a lecture today at UNB's MacGlaggan Hall, former Dish, Texas mayor Calvin Tillman discussed how chemicals from hydraulic fracturing can become run off, effecting the water supply of valleys in the path of the chemicals.

Tillman was asked a question on this subject by a Fredericton native concerned about shale gas fracking chemicals seeping into the UNB woodlot area. The city is under license for exploration by shale gas companies, with the woodlot a potential site for fracking. The chemicals used in the fracking process, if the woodlot is played, could become run-off, seeping into the city's acquifer's downhill from the woodlot.

Tillman, best known for his interview with Josh Fox in the documentary Gasland, was in Fredericton as part of a province-wide tour about his experiences with the shale gas industry while mayor of Dish.

Why Calvin Tillman moved away from Dish, Texas

The former mayor of Dish, Texas, Calvin Tillman, is best known for his interview in the documentary on the shale gas industry, Gasland. Tillman presided over the town as the industry ramped up operations in the area, leading to personal reasons for him to decide to move his family elsewhere. Listen to the video below to find out what they were.

Tillman lecture interrupted by citizen pointing out government officials in attendance

Unbeknownst to most of the audience today at the Tillman lecture, government officials from Natural Resources and the Natural Gas Group were among the listeners.

During the Q & A portion of Tillman's appearance, a citizen stood up in the audience and pointed out the officials. The citizen began questioning them, but the lecture moderator, Armand Paul, thought it best to let Tillman continue. When Paul did so, the two members present from the Natural Gas Group left the auditorium, while Natural Resources deputy minister Sam McEwan stayed on - getting a grilling from the public after Tillman finished.

DNR deputy minister McEwan at Tillman lecture

After Calvin Tillman finished his lecture on his experience with the shale gas industry while mayor of Dish, Texas, the media moved in on Natural Resources deputy minister Sam MacEwan, who's attendance was pointed out by another audience member. In the video below, MacEwan explains why he and members of the Natural Gas Group were at the event.

DNR deputy minister confronted by citizens at Tillman lecture on shale gas

Angry citizens confronted Natural Resources deputy minister Sam MacEwan, who was on hand today to hear Calvin Tillman speak, about the government's poor handling of the shale gas issue and its seeming deaf ear to their worries about the industry setting up shop here.

Citizen finds behaviour of gov't officials at Tillman lecture, and province's overall governance, 'plum pitiful'

Calvin Tillman lecture: DNR Deputy Minister MacEwan upbraided by citizen

Former mayor of Dish, Texas lectures on town's experience with shale gas industry

Large crowd on hand today at UNB's MacGlaggan Hall auditorium to hear Calvin Tillman lecture on his experiences with  the shale gas industry while he was mayor of Dish, Texas. 

Provincial shale gas caucus member Armand Paul introduces Calvin Tillman today for lecture on the shale gas industry at UNB's MacGlaggan Hall.

Calvin Tillman gets a standing 'o' before beginning his lecture on the shale gas industry today at UNB's MacGlaggan Hall.

An ariel view of Tillman's former hometown, Dish, Texas. The white dots are shale gas hydro-fracturing well pads.

Many in the crowd at the Tillman lecture today took notes.

Ways you can contact Calvin Tillman. (Click on the picture for a bigger, clearer view for Tillman's contact info)

Former mayor of Dish, Texas, Calvin Tillman discussed his experiences with the shale gas industry during his time in office at UNB today.

Some members of the provinces Natural Gas Group came out to hear the Tillman lecture at UNB today. Above, Angie Leonard, left, and Annie Daigle, right, take their leave of the auditorium after being singled out by citizens.  

Tillman writes his approval of the Say No To Shale Gas symbol that has become a common protest sign in the province's anti-shale gas movement.

A Liberal opposition member's communications assistant takes notes from documented evidence of shale gas industry violations brought by Tillman to his lecture. 

Tillman did autographs after speaking.

Tillman is interviewed by media after his lecture.

- photos by Cheryl Norrad