FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government will introduce legislative amendments that will ban the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in municipal wastewater infrastructure.

“Our government is getting things done by taking the necessary legislative steps to protect the environment from unsafe hydraulic fracturing practices with measures that are based on science, best practices, and our priorities to balance sustainable development with environmental protection,” said Environment and Local Government, Minister Serge Rousselle. “We know from other jurisdictions that disposing of hydraulic wastewater in municipal systems poses an unacceptable risk to the environment and to the wastewater treatment systems.”

Once amended, the Clean Environment Act will prohibit the discharge of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into wastewater treatment systems owned or operated by a municipality, a regional municipality, a rural community, a wastewater commission or the provincial government. The amendment will also ensure that wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in other jurisdictions is not imported into New Brunswick for disposal.

“Our government listens and understands what matters to New Brunswickers,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “We are working hard to create jobs, grow the economy, and support sustainable development. These changes are being made with two of the five conditions of the moratorium in mind. This respects best practices on protecting public health, the environment and water; and it respects the need to protect public infrastructure. If industry wants to meet the conditions to lift the moratorium, they will need to find a different plan for wastewater disposal. We do not expect this to occur.”

The use of municipal sewage treatment plants to treat wastewater from hydraulic fracturing is no longer standard industry practice. The trend is to require industry to dispose of this wastewater without using public infrastructure.

“We are pleased to see the government set clear rules to close this loophole in the Clean Environment Act,” said Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “Too often, all over North America, people have learned the hard way that when the oil and gas industry is allowed to use sewage plants as dumping sites, coastal water is polluted and freshwater is made undrinkable. Wise measures to ensure our water remains clean and protected are always in order.”