Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 16, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
LETHBH1DGE HERAID Tuesday, May 16, 1971 't W" 7 future decision must come soon Ry .fOK Hi-raid Staff Uritrr Ivirly in is as the critical tim-- for the determina- tion of (he farming and rundj- ing fulnrc of ihe region known as Ihe Pincher Crook vest gas field in I ho .southwestern cor- ner of the province A key person involved in Ilia dcci.si on-making is to be Wil- liam Yurko, a chemical engi- neer who now minister of Lhe environment in ihe I.nughoed government. Instrumental in gelling the government lo al least review iLs thinking on the agriciillura.1 En lure of 11 ic foothills lands around I'inc Creek is Pr. Dim (Jill of the geography do- pa rlment of Lhc University of Alberta in llrlmoiitoa. The government has already received one brief from Dr. Gill and after additional pollu- tion research and surveys complete, an addendum another brk-i" i.-, proposed. Joining forces with Dr. dill i.i Keilh Wilson of the U of A. a biologist described as a friend of tlie farmers and ranchers in the I'mchcr community. He also presented a brief to the government last fall. Mr. Wilson ba.s lived in Die Pincher Urcfk district a major pod ion of the past winter. He is planning additional represt-nU- !inn ID ,-i mii'-ii: alvllh' Mir .n-.il sion liy 'i.o hulil puli'ii- iMi ur.ii pollution in Uic Pincher Di-ywood watershed area. No dates have been set for the public hearings yet, but it ia' being assumed Uiey will be held either in late summer or early fall of ihli year, with a report on Lhe hearings and pos- sible government nctjon taking place early in The federal deparLmc'iu of the environment proposes to send a team of lecJinici.m-; jnlo the Drywocd River area this summer to sample soil, air and water, and it's expected the findings of the federal men will have an important role to piny in Ihe information pro- vided (o the hearing. There's consider able change in the outlook of the farmers during the pa.st year in the t-oulh Pincher Creek dislrict. a feeling Lhc o'd Social Credit government about lo give up the area when it comos to agriculture. The Lougheed go-, eminent, meanwhile, appears to feel that agriculture should be given every opportunity to survive and, if at all possible, play an even more important role in the economic well-being of the di.sl.rkl. The Ras and oil companies in Ihc area .should be able to op- erate with more efficiency anil cleaner, and not up.iot the way of lift- tiic way ii been fur mni1'-- limn 10 years fir Gifl. and MM f.iniv'i i allfl "t.c di .1 ri' L h.i'.'e rallied pi-1- .-M.-nied Lhc-ir for .1 public ccssing and sulfur extraction planLs of holli Shell Oil ami Gulf Oil, and ii i.s said Lo Ira the stream most affected by po'lulion. l-'or more than 10 yean residents and domestic ani- mals have been liit by mys- terious diseases and illnesses. Some have had lo leave tlie area entirely and others have had Lo sLop using UK stream as a .source of water. There have been extensive fish kills at the bottom of the Waterton River Dam. The dam blocks off the Waterlon Kiver. which in turn is upstream by the Dry wood as one of iLs main tributaries. A steady degeneration of the Dry wood has been noticed since the ga.s processing facili- ties were erected during the past decade and it is further contended the oil companies are musing additional wide- spread pollution in the adja- cent areas of the Crow.snest Fore.it Reserve. Until recently, an individual found little else but stumbling blocks in his way if he com- plained to Hie government. Of- ficial complaints had to be channdd through fish and wildlife officers or biologists of the department of lands and forests. And, even official complaints were a.s likely as not lo ixjnd up in bureaucratic circles of red t ,i p c and (hen become linked down. A fe-A handed o-.n were saiil to ho minimal. INDKPKNDKNT TKSTS Through help from i', o e r n m i; it L inlervenliDn. there's been n in lliv laws conceniiny [Mjlhitinu and individual complaints are to be belter received and more clfective. The Environment and Conservation Authority lia.s set late summer or early fall as Lhe time for the public hear- ings on Ihc pollution problems at Pincher Creek and district. It's expected that boLb Gulf and Shell Oil will carry out some independent tests ol their own before Uic hearings. The attention that Mr. Yurko has decided to give the Pincher problems lias been received with wide approval and with plaudits from Uie residents of the area. The general feeling among the people in Lhc area bi thai neither Llwj department of health nor the Alberta Kneryy Resources Cobservation Board has paid enough attention lo the problems in the pa.st. So, the conservation authority has taken on extra personnel to its staff in an effort lo have a more complete look. In addition to a variety of pollution problems, the isolat- ing of sulphur dioxide and hy- drogen sulplude in various lo- cations and concentrations of lead have also been found in some of tho drinking water Sources. As far as it is knonn, the lead source has not been iso- lated and as a result some of the ranchers me m their drinking water .supplies tlill wanirf lo see a Iv.MVr analysis made of the rmi-SMmi MacLs of both Ihe (Julf ami SliL-Il plnnih. There ha.s been relaiively liilli; re- search carried out plants and various plui.ie.s profltiction and he would like lo sec this avenue pursued as well. There has been no follow-up on tho extensive fish kill ihat took place in the W alert on River Reservoir two years ago. The reservoir blocks off tho Walcrlon Jliver, which in lum is fed by the Dry wood River, a main tributary. NO FOLLOW-UP Hundreds of dead fish wera found near Lhe spillway of the dam. There's strong feeling pollution in Lhc Dry wood River was a main cause behind heavy kill-off. Mr. Wilson is in the process of completing a hook which deals with personal expe- riences and of the ranchers in the Pinchcr Creek district. He plans to complete it wliile working on a farm near Prince Albert this sum- mer. Last [all a group of 15 farm families in the district received on out-of-courl settlement of from Lhe two oil com- panies being accused of caus- ing pollution and other nui- sance problems in the area. With support from the Fann- ers" Union of Alberta, the farm- ers and ranchers had their case before the courts for years. Many felt that with the changing hands, Ilia ranchers would Ire keeping quid about any further action. Out, there am some indica- tions Ihat it may all Ijc jiirt beginning. There have bevn many inslnnco.s when ilia decree of conrp-ntrillion of gas- es in the air wa.s so great that measuring devices were unabla to record the rcr.ding.-i.