Amherst frack­ing pro­tes­tors take to town hall steps

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - NEWS - BY CHRISTO­PHER GOOD­ING

AMHERST - It’s be­come a popular, col­lo­quial ex­pres­sion and in down­town Amherst the mes­sage was loud and clear - “no frack­ing way.”

A peace­ful protest against the Town of Amherst ac­cept­ing 30 mil­lion gal­lons of treated frack­ing waste wa­ter and dis­pos­ing of it through it sewage treat­ment plant started with a mod­est group of fifty pro­tes­tors on Fri­day but grew as the hour ap­proached noon. Their rea­sons for op­pos­ing the pro­posal put for­ward by At­lantic In­dus­trial Ser­vices were many, but all were united by the is­sue.

“There are too many unan­swered ques­tions,” Paul ‘Skippy’ Far­row said. “Ten years later are we go­ing to find some­thing was wrong. We dumped chem­i­cals for years in our back­yard and were wrong. If we take it now, we’re be­com­ing a dump­ing ground for toxic in­dus­trial waste.”

Far­row help or­ga­nize the protest in equally short of time it be­came known Amherst, along with the City of Dieppe, have been asked to take on the treated waste­water in re­turn for half-amil­lion dol­lars. Amherst signed a let­ter of in­tent to take on the waste­water, but won’t mak­ing a decision un­til the next reg­u­larly coun­cil meet­ing on Nov. 24. Coun­cil was asked to make a decision Nov. 10, but that was de­ferred and a sec­ond pub­lic meet­ing is ex­pected be­fore the meet­ing on the 24th.

It’s not just the Amherst pub­lic that is ex­press­ing a stake in the out­come if Amherst choses to pro­ceed with the pro­posal. From Cum­ber­land County’s north shore, Richard Plett at­tended the protest - his first pub­lic protest - to ex­press his con­cerns say­ing yes to ac­cept­ing the waste­water is say­ing yes to a con­tro­ver­sial en­ergy sec­tor.

“[It’s] open­ing the door to un­con­ven­tional oil and gas de­vel­op­ment, which is what they are do­ing re­ally,” Plett said. “What I’m here for is a frack-free zone.”

His sen­ti­ments were shared by lo­cal au­thor and poet Harry Thurston, who holds a de­gree in bi­ol­ogy from the Univer­sity of Aca­dia. Na­ture plays a sig­nif­i­cant roll in his work - he’s writ­ten an en­tire book on the tidal rivers and salt marsh in his back­yard - and say­ing yes to byprod­ucts is say­ing yes to the frack­ing in­dus­try.

“By ac­cept­ing this waste­water gives ap­proval to the whole frack­ing in­dus­try,” Thurston said. “It’s the bot­tom of the bar­rel in en­ergy pro­duc­tion and I feel this has been a deeply flawed po­lit­i­cal process. It’s not business as usual and its been a very un­usual de­vel­op­ment.”

Stranger still would be the sight of trucks driv­ing back and forth over the marshes to de­liver the waste­water if ap­proved, Amherst res­i­dent Janet Dale said. Dale, too, is at odds with the frack­ing in­dus­try.

“If our town coun­cil takes this money it will not be just one time as in­di­cated by the Town’s pro­posed agree­ment of in­tent, “Dale said. “It will be for 730 days. 730 days of trucks go­ing back and forth be­tween the col­lec­tion ponds will be urged to help cram it with non-per­ish­able food items and coats.

Wood said he’s look­ing for gen­tly used win­ter coats that can be do­nated in support of the Coats for Cum­ber­land cam­paign while food that’s col­lected will be pro­vided to the Amherst Food As­sis­tance Net­work.

On Nov. 13, the cruiser will be at Spring Street Academy from 8 to 9 a.m. and ARHS from 11 a.m. to noon.

It will be at West High­lands El­e­men­tary from 1 to 2 p.m., E.B. Chandler from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. and at the Sobeys park­ing lot from 5 to 8 p.m.

On Nov. 14, the cruiser will be at the Wal­mart park­ing lot from 5 to 8 p.m.

While it wasn’t part of the pro­gram last year, Wood said ARHS asked to par­tic­i­pate this year while both Sobeys and Wal­mart are back as well.

“Last year we col­lected a lot of gro­ceries at Sobeys and Sobeys does have food bags pre­pared that peo­ple can buy for the food bank,” Wood said. “We got a lot of cloth­ing at Wal­mart. One woman lit­er­ally gave us the jacket off her back.”

Colleen Dowe of Em­pow­er­ing Beyond Bar­ri­ers is hop­ing peo­ple will help cram the cruis- and our marsh... I don’t give a fig how clean this wa­ter is; if you can bathe in it, shave your legs with it, wash the car with it. It’s as the­o­ret­i­cally dirty to­day as the day it came out of the frack.” er again this year.

“There re­mains a huge need in the com­mu­nity for some­thing as sim­ple as win­ter jack­ets and out­er­wear, es­pe­cially snow pants for chil­dren,” Dowe said. “There’s a huge need for youth sizes eight to 16 and for women’s and men’s ex­tra large and 2XL jack­ets.”

Coats for Cum­ber­land has kicked off its sixth sea­son with drop-off lo­ca­tions at Sobeys in the Amherst Cen­tre Mall as well as at At­lantic Kia, Jim Hathe­way Ford, Mag­gie’s Place, Amherst Home Hard­ware and at CANSA.

Other drop-off lo­ca­tions will be es­tab­lished else­where in the county, in­clud­ing the NSCC Cum­ber­land Cam­pus in Springhill.

On Nov. 21, be­tween 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the cloth­ing that’s col­lected will dis­trib­uted at the Amherst Cen­tre Mall, while other dis­tri­bu­tion lo­ca­tions across the county will be an­nounced later.

Last year, more than 700 items of cloth­ing were dis­trib­uted across Cum­ber­land County with 317 be­ing dis­trib­uted at the mall alone. Sixty coats were given to the Amherst food bank for dis­tri­bu­tion.


Paul ‘Skippy' Far­row (right) was on the front line lead­ing a grow­ing group of pro­tes­tors against the Town of Amherst's let­ter of in­tent to ac­cept treated frack­ing waste­water from At­lantic In­dus­trial Ser­vices's hold­ing ponds in De­bert.

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