Canadian Manufacturing

Environmental Appeal Board overturns Nexen fracking water license

Fort Nelson First Nation has won its challenge to stop Nexen from pumping water form a remote B.C. lake



VANCOUVER—The Environmental Appeal Board has overturned a water licence granted to an oil and gas company in northeastern British Columbia, ruling the licence was based on bad science and bad faith.

The Fort Nelson First Nation has successfully challenged the long term water licence granted in 2012, which allowed Nexen Inc. to pump water from Tsea Lake, in a remote area about 100 kilometres northeast of Fort Nelson.

Millions of cubic metres of water were being used by Nexen for shale gas fracking, but the Environmental Appeal Board says the pumping must stop immediately.

It says the science behind the licence is fundamentally flawed and it also ruled the province acted in bad faith when it did not properly consult with the Fort Nelson First Nation, breaching a constitutional duty to consider potential adverse effects of the water licence.

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan says Nexen pumped water from the lake even during drought conditions, seriously affecting the lake, fish and surrounding environment.

She says the appeal board ruling sends a clear message to oil companies and the B.C. government that the liquefied natural gas industry will not proceed at the expense of the environment and treaty rights.

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