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The illusion of setbacks

We at Peace Environment and SafetyTrustees Society are pleased that theMinistry of Energy, Mines and PetroleumResources has increased the gas well setbackdistance from schools and publicbuildings.

We at Peace Environment and SafetyTrustees Society are pleased that theMinistry of Energy, Mines and PetroleumResources has increased the gas well setbackdistance from schools and publicbuildings.

Even though our previous Ministerpromised to increase the 80 100 meterresidential setback, nevertheless that hasNOT happened. Instead, government hascreated a zone of 250 meters in which aresident may negotiate their concerns withthe proponent energy company, and a further250 meter zone where there will be'enhanced' safety management. The basic80 100 meter setback distance remainsthe same.

During the more than seven years thatwe residents in the Northeast have beenasking for increased setbacks in relation toresidences, technology has advanced exponentially.Back then single wells were drilledin a vertical fashion, and if productive, theywere soon connected to a network of undergroundpipelines.

Today, each well pad is built to accommodate6 12 (or more) wells. The wells arenow drilled as much as 2 km down and then2 km horizontally to fracture the gas-bearingformation. These large well padsbecome permanent fixtures with all kinds ofadditional equipment such as liquid separation,booster compressors, metering stations,risers to accommodate pigging and so on.

The safety risk and potential health hazard toneighbouring residents is increased by thelarge number of wells per pad. We have seenthat Emergency Response Plans do not protectus in a timely fashion. The original 80 100 meter separation distance from the centerof the first well-bore to our homes is sadly outof date.

After the initial drilling, each well goesthrough a completion process. As many as200 huge freight trucks arrive and depart tocomplete each of 7-14 fracs for each well. Dothe math. Thousands of trucks for each wellon the pad, as many as 50,000 by the time thepad has been completely developed.

We have worked in good faith with ourrepresentatives in Victoria for more thanseven years in an attempt to secure safety anda reasonable quality of life for those of us wholive side by side with natural gas development.We are terribly disappointed that the governmenthas once again failed to recognizeour concerns or to protect our health andsafety.

Brian Derfler, PresidentPeace Environment andSafety Trustees Society