Canadian Manufacturing

Judge rules Alberta can be sued over fracking allegations

woman who claims her well is contaminated with methane can sue the province over hydraulic fracturing on her property



ROSEBUD, Alta.—A judge has ruled an Alberta woman who claims her well is so contaminated with methane that the water can be set on fire can sue the province over hydraulic fracturing on her property.

Jessica Ernst filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against Alberta Environment and energy company Encana Corp. in 2007.

She alleges fracking on her land northeast of Calgary released hazardous amounts of chemicals into her well and that her concerns were not properly investigated.

The government asked the court to strike it from the lawsuit, arguing the province is immune from prosecutions under its environment and water legislation.

Chief Justice Neil Wittmann of the Court of Queen’s Bench has dismissed the government’s application, and ordered the province pay Ernst legal costs at triple the regular rate.

The provincial justice department is reviewing the judgment to determine if it will appeal.

Fracking involves pumping water, nitrogen, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to fracture rock and allow natural gas or oil to flow through wells to the surface.

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