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WIN! Council of Canadians celebrates defeat of Seneca Lake gas storage project

The Council of Canadians is celebrating the end of the Seneca Lake methane gas storage proposal in New York state – and hopes this win will bolster the ongoing efforts to stop a similar gas storage project in Nova Scotia.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, who spoke against fracking and water grabs in the Finger Lakes area in November 2014, has just tweeted, “This is a huge victory! So exciting! Congratulations!”

On May 10, the Elmira Star Gazette reported, “Arlington Storage Co., a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners, is abandoning controversial plans to expand natural gas storage in salt caverns along Seneca Lake. Numerous municipalities have gone on record opposing Crestwood’s gas storage plans, and hundreds of residents have gone to court to face trespassing and other charges after protests outside Crestwood’s facility in the Schuyler County Town of Reading.”

EcoWatch highlights, “Seneca Lake serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Even absent earthquakes or catastrophic accidents, simply pressurizing the briny salt caverns with compressed gases may salinate the lake in ways that could potentially violate drinking water standards.”

In this January 2016 blog – The Unacceptable Risk of Alton Gas Storage – Council of Canadians organizer Tori Ball linked the Seneca Lake proposal to the Alton Gas storage proposal that we continue to oppose in Nova Scotia.

Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas Ltd., wants to build underground caverns to store natural gas near the Shubenacadie River on Sipekne’katik territory near the rural communities of Alton and Stewiake, which are situated about 75 kilometres north of Halifax.

Ball wrote, “An independent quantitative risk analysis done in 2015 by Rob Mackenzie for a similar project in Seneca Lake looked at the risk of underground hydrocarbon storage, including salt cavern storage. His risk analysis concluded that salt cavern storage poses an unacceptable risk due to the medium likelihood and extremely serious to serious consequences.”

And Ball highlighted, “As of 2013 there were 40 underground natural gas storage facilities in the United States. Of these, there have been 20 serious or extremely serious incidents between 1972 to 2012.”

We extend our congratulations to those who won an important struggle in New York state and we recommit ourselves to continue to work with Indigenous and community allies in the struggle to stop the Alton Gas storage project.

Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress recently organized a speaking tour in opposition to Alton Gas with stops in Halifax (March 27), Antigonish (April 5), Sipekne’katik (May 11), and Mahone Bay (May 12).

Now that a provincial election is underway in Nova Scotia (with voting day on May 30), we are calling on chapter activists and the broader public to ask candidates running in this election the following questions:

1- What would your government do specifically about the issue of the proposed Alton Gas project?

2- What would you do to better protect our rights, our water, and our climate from unnecessary projects like Alton Gas?

The Council of Canadians has been working with allies to stop the Alton Gas project since November 2014.