Two arrested after threats made against fracking site
Two Mountain View County people were arrested last Thursday after someone threatened to blow up a well site in the Eagle Valley area and shoot at the crew working there over concerns about water contamination from fracking.
Both people, who live near an NAL Resources wellsite where fracking is occurring, were released from police custody with undertakings to have no contact with the company or its employees and to not possess any firearms or explosives.
No charges were laid at the time but the investigation is continuing, said Sundre RCMP Cpl. Ryan Hodge.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board contacted Sundre RCMP after receiving a faxed correspondence Thursday morning that staff “perceived to be threatening,” said ERCB spokesperson Bob Curan.
The threats were contained in an Objection To An Energy Resources Project form alleged to have been filled out and submitted to the ERCB’s Calgary office by one of the two Mountain View County people arrested.
“If you frack I will blow up your well and shoot bullets at your crew NAL. You are at risk. You are placing employees at risk,” the document states.
The energy company named in the document as well as the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) were also notified of the threats.
As part of the companies’ crisis management plan, Hodges said the wellsite was evacuated.
NAL Resources officials said they did not want to impede the ongoing investigation by releasing details of the incident.
NAL director of investor relations Clayton Paradis confirmed NAL’s site near Sundre was the subject of the objection document.
Located on Rge. Rd. 50, northeast of Sundre, workers on site confirmed the well was undergoing servicing at the time of the threat.
Entrances to two wellsites, the named site in the letter, as well as another site to the southeast, were blocked off Thursday.
The company took the threats seriously.
“Our primary concern is the safety of workers and contractors so it was prudent to notify the authorities,” said Paradis.
SPOG communicated with its industry partners – listed on its website to be 17 companies – at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, warning them about the threat and cautioning them to stay out of the area.
SPOG executive director Tracey McCrimmon called the move unusual and said they’ve not dealt with a similar situation before.
“It’s certainly disturbing. We don’t want to see anybody put in danger.”
The document that was faxed to the ERCB is a form interested parties can fill out when they have an objection to a coal, oil sands, pipeline, oil, or natural gas development.
Curan said the use of the form to issue threats was not commonplace.
“No, people certainly express concern about development on a regular basis but rarely do we get things we perceive to be a threat,” Curan said.
In it, the letter writer raised an unresolved concern with NAL Energy and named a company contact regarding a fracking flaring project at 13-30-33-04-W5 in Mountain View County.
The document says: “Mountain View County does not approve the use of potable water by NAL Energy for frack operations. Eagle Valley does not permit you to frack this location until BTX water testing (Baseline) has been conducted prior to your frack and flare job. All cattle water wells, house tap water needs to be BTX sampled 1st. Without baseline water testing the neighbours surrounding this site you will be sued. Concern is Water Aquifer Contamination – you are liable for any water contamination,” the letter reads. “If you frack I will blow up your well and shoot bullets at your crew NAL. You are at RISK. You are placing employees at risk.”
The letter writer then requested a frack fluid list be faxed and it was signed by one of two people listed as the contacts on the form.
Cpl. Hodge said a male was arrested Thursday at his place of employment in connection with the investigation and later released with conditions.
A female who is under investigation in the case later surrendered to police and was arrested at the detachment.
“There is no indication that this person is a part of an organized group or has ever made threats of this nature before,” Hodge said in his release.