Oil and Gas Development causes concerns near Farmington

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A group of residents near Farmington say they don´t want their town to fall victim to an "avalanche" of oil and gas activity, like a nearby community that has seen a series of bombings target the industry in recent months.

The Peace Environmental Safety Trustees say there are 24 wells either planned or being drilled within a three-kilometre radius of the Parkland Elementary School in Farmington.

"We´re concerned we´re going to be the next Tomslake," said Brian Derfler, referring to the neighbouring community that has seen four bombings targeting oil and gas facilities. 

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Members of the newly-formed group in Farmington believe the oil and gas activity near their community is putting their children´s health at risk through increased emissions as well as the potential for an emergency. Schools currently have a 500-metre setback from oil and gas wells, which Derfler said isn´t far enough. A report for the Northern Health region just over a year ago found there were serious public health concerns around school and oil and a gas development.

Dr. Lorna Medd said there was particular concern in rural communities, but regional district directors have loudly complained the report hasn´t gotten enough attention.

Regional district director Tim Caton said it may be time to re-examine the policy that allows wells to be drilled on agricultural land with only the provincial Oil and Gas Commission for oversight.

Approval is needed from the regional district and Agricultural Land Commission only if the facility or site grows to larger than seven hectares or 400 metres squared, which is the limit under an agricultural zone.

However, a blanket ban is unlikely since the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has repeatedly stated only it and the Oil and Gas Commission have the authority to regulate well setbacks and locations.

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