This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.
The Blog

A Toast to Drinking Water

La Présentation, October 31, 2013

Mr John Gorman, Vice-President, Halliburton Canada

Mr Michael Binnion, President QOGA

Mr Nicolas Marceau, Quebec minister of finances

Re : A toast to drinking water


In the press release of Quebec's Oil and Gas Association (QOGA), Mr John Gorman announced that «... en buvant un verre contenant du liquide de fracturation que John Gorman d'Halliburton entend conclure son allocution..»(he would end his speech with a toast by drinking a glass of fracking water ... (1) . On October 28, I was one of the people picketing in front of the Sheraton hotel in Montreal; I believe that the quality and availability of drinking water is jeopardized by hydraulic fracturing.

I will readily admit that some of my collegues have often dared promoters of the gas industry to drink a glass of water taken off a well head. Up until now, all have refused to do so, at least in Quebec; they probably thought that this was playing Russian roulette with their lives and their health.

By drinking one of the numerous additives used for fracturing, (which one should not confuse with flowback fluids,) Mr. Gorman attempts to convince skeptics that the Oil and Gas industry could not be responsible for serious public health isssues. Although chemical compounds account for less than 1% of the fracking fluid,(on average 0,5%) they are far from harmless. Some can do serious damage to the endocrinal system. At 5000 ppm (parts per millions) others can be lethal. Among the long list of chemicals, we can name a few that have been used by the industry in the province of Quebec; dodecyl benzene sulphonic acid salts, toluene, trimethylbenzene, trisodium nitrilotriacetate, quinoline derivatives, methanol, naphata cuts; all kinds of goodies that can poison you in a jiffy.

Hundreds of different chemical compounds have been used by the industry in order to drill and fracture the bedrock in North America. One must never forget that these products can react amongst themselves, or with those already present underground, in order to produce new substances.

Furthermore, these chemical substances can deteriorate into numerous others... A study by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (3) reports a total of 1027 substances for the period between 2005 and 2010; this number could increase substantially as new analyses take place.

So, is Mr. Gorman really ready to swallow this kind of chemical cocktail; not simply an additive such as «Clean Stuff», but genuine fracking water certified to have been taken at a wellhead? Since today is Halloween, with real fracking water, he might possibly become a zombie. He should chose his ''rot-gut'' more carefully.

Since the gas industry refuses to reveal the complete list of the chemical mixtures used for hydraulic fracturation, (probably because they don't have it), the only way to honestly play this comedy would be for him to drink a glass of water taken from one of rare wells (that's a long shot!) where flowback water would not put his health in peril. Or... maybe... in order to save time and money, he could simply add food coloring «to make believe».

So, is Mr. Gorman willing to let an expert in toxicology (or a coroner) analyse the leftover water remaining at the bottom of his glass after his toast? If a reputable accounting firm such as Samson Bélair/Deloitte &Touche cannot vouch for the fact that Mr. Gorman and his peers have really drunk flowback water taken from a fracking, anybody who knows the ropes will see this so-called toast as a Halloween mascarade . The only people who wouldn't know the difference are the people who would consult the website which Mr. Gorman recommends (3). Information, you say! «» sponsored by «... nearly 260 oil and gas service companies ...» seems to be tailor-made to brainwash a moron with the intellectual maturity of a 7 year old!

So, is this toast simply a burlesque farce where the glasses were filled with tap water with a slight amount of food-grade coloring? Mr. Gorman, lobbyists for QOGA/APGQ, bureaucrats and politicians from various governments, if you are serious, please raise your glasses filled with flowback water certified to be taken at a well-head . Then, if you really, really want to convince the population that flowback water does not represent a serious risk factor to the population, go a step further; I would invite you all on stage with the pregnant women of your family (spouse, daughter, daughter-in-law, etc) and let them, also, drink this water which may , possibly, contain hundreds of chemical compounds!

If Mr. Gorman wants to convince people that flowback water is not detrimental to one's health, he must drink the real thing, not just colored water with an additive such as «Clean Stuff». This stunt is like taking an aspirin, but the tablet does not contain «acetyl-salicylic acid». Any pharmacist will tell you that the latter is the active ingredient that will deal with your head ache. To Mr. Gorman, I say "Put up or shut up!» Without the genuine active ingredients, its an empty boast destined to impress the uninformed and the uneducated!

If Mr. Gorman and the other participants refuse to accept this challenge to pregnant women who nurture future human beings, (and possibly carry their genes), why would they impose this risk to the children of over 15 million Americans who live within one mile (1.6 km) of a fractured well(5)? What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander

If you and the other participants of QOGA's annual conference are unwilling to drink certified flowback water, one has to assume that this toast is a vulgar publicity stunt where the purpose is to misguide uninformed citizens. If you «chicken-out», it is because , deep down in your gut, you acknowledge the scientific facts that I and others are trying to bring to light!

As far as I am concerned, I wish to raise my glass to the health of the children of the growing generations and to their right to have uncontaminated water for their daily use! As we say in Quebec; «À votre Santé!»

Gérard Montpetit

629 Cinquième Rang,

La Présentation, Qc

J0H 1B0


Téléphone : 450-796-3685

Nota Bene; This letter was originally written in French on the 31 of October whereas this English version was ready for publication on November 6.

Acknowledgment; My thanks to Mr Marc Brullemans, biophysicist, for his help with the «science» aspects of this text.





5) Plus de 15 millions d'Américains vivent maintenant à moins d'un mille d'un puits fracturé - at least 15.3 million Americans have a natural gas well within one mile of their home that has been drilled since 2000:

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact