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Tress at blockade of Alton Gas Storage project construction site

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress joined a blockade this morning of the Alton Gas Storage project construction site.

The project is opposed by the Sipekne’katik First Nation and the Millbrook First Nation who highlight that it is a violation of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752 between the Mi’kmaq and the British Crown. That Treaty states that the Mi’kmaq “shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of hunting and fishing as usual”.

The company, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd., has proposed creating storage facilities for natural gas by drilling three wells in underground salt caverns. The idea is that the wells would be used to store natural gas to hedge against higher natural gas prices in the winter. The project would also include two 12-kilometre pipelines. One would be used to pump water from the Shubenacadie River estuary to flush the salt out of the caverns (to make way for the gas to be stored) and the other for transporting the resulting salt brine mixture into storage ponds that would be built beside an estuary in Fort Ellis (and then discharged back into the river).

The eight demands – which have been posted on Twitter by those blockading the construction site gates – are as follows:

1. Need research on the way climate change impacts the river, and GHG emissions from the project

2. Need real clarity on how brine would be diluted before entering the river.

3. @Min_LeBlanc protect species at risk in the Bay of Fundy. Striped Bass and Atlantic salmon.

4. @StephenMcNeil stop all permits until court cases are complete, real consultation is done.

5. Allow for a referendum for all on and off reserve #mikmaq about the project.

6. @cathmckenna @mmillershubie strengthen enviro assessment law, make room for real community input.

7. Respect treaty right to fish. Don’t force #mikmaq to remove traps from Shubenacadie River.

8. No commercial activity for 12 months so we can complete baseline monitoring.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing for the past two years a plan by Alton Natural Gas Storage LP to store natural gas near the rural community of Alton, which is situated about 75 kilometres north of Halifax.

As Tress has highlighted, “The Shubenacadie River is not protected under the Navigation Protection Act and is at risk of corporate interests polluting it despite community opposition and lack of Indigenous consent. The pipeline that would carry natural gas to and from the caverns is slated to cross the Stewiacke River. Because the former Harper government exempted pipelines and powerlines from being reviewed under the Navigation Protection Act and Trudeau has yet to address this glaring issue, the natural gas pipeline won’t be reviewed for its impacts on navigable waters.”

Our Every Lake, Every River campaign calls for these protections to be restored and enhanced.