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In June 2013, the Sahtu Land and Water Board (SLWB) gave ConocoPhillips the green light to drill two exploratory horizontal fracking wells 20 kilometres southwest of Norman Wells, N.W.T. The SLWB granted a land use permit and a water license for the fracks without requiring an environmental assessment and without proper consultation with groups which would be affected across the North. The National Energy Board approved this project on October 31, 2013 and fracking has since begun and will continue for the next five years.

ConocoPhillips plans to hydraulically fracture — pumping water along with a slurry of extremely toxic chemicals down the wells under high pressure — multiple times this winter to gain access to the oil which lies within the shale rock.

February 2014, 2700 cubic metres of fresh water that was to be used to make the fracking mix spilled from a retention pool. That is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

There have also been two waste spills at the site. One hundred and fifty litres of partially treated sewage water spilled from a vacuum truck on Jan. 31. Three days later 240 litres of untreated sewage spilled when a sewer line got blocked by a cleaning rag, causing an overflow.

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ConocoPhillips is drilling two wells in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories.
ConocoPhillips is drilling two wells in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories.

A coalition of concerned groups and citizens