Eco-briefs | Groundwater contaminated after fracking fluid leak in Canada

Spotted skunk

An investigation into a fracking fluid leak near Calgary, in Canada, has confirmed groundwater contamination. On Sept. 22, 2011, Crew Energy Inc. workers “inadvertently perforated above the base of groundwater protection” and proceeded with hydraulic fracturing operations using 130 cubic meters of gelled propane as carrier fluid and 20.07 tons of sand before realizing the fracturing was too shallow, according to a report by Canada’s Energy Resources Conservation Board. The well was flowed back to recover as much of the propane and fracking fluid as possible and two groundwater monitoring wells were installed 50 meters northeast of the drill site. Combustible gas at a level lower than the combustible limit was found in one of the wells. Almost a year later, on Sept. 20, the groundwater composition showed ongoing effects from fracking fluid. But because the water does not appear connected to drinking water resources, the investigation classified the risk to drinking water as insignificant.


After an initial review of a petition to protect the prairie gray fox and plains spotted skunk, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is undergoing ongoing studies to determine whether these species qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act as endangered or threatened. Both subspecies are found in grasslands in the Midwest and Great Plains.

Species currently listed on the endangered and threatened list for the region include the Canada lynx, gray bat, gray wolf, Indiana bat and Ozark big-eared bat.

The petition to include the prairie gray fox and plains spotted skunk contends that populations of those two species have declined by 90 percent to 100 percent in most of their ranges following a loss of the grassland and early successional habitat both species require for cover or foraging.

These two have been selected as “the most charismatic and endangered examples” of species threatened in their grasslands habitat. The Grand Prairie DPS of the Eastern Cottontail is also included in the petition, which was submitted by a biology professor at Western Illinois University and a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Small Carnivore Conservation specialist group.

Previous articleNews of the day: Kerry to be nominated, NRA says more guns and Boehner fails
Next articleBoehner’s Senate push is a transparent trick