Posted September 1, 2016, Updated March 12, 2019.
The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) stands in solidarity with Mi’kmaq rights holders and communities, local fishers, and members of the Alton and Brentwood communities who are standing up for all Nova Scotians in their opposition to the Alton Natural Gas storage project. These communities have not given their Free, Prior and Informed Consent, have had their concerns repeatedly ignored, and bear the brunt of the risks of this project.
Alberta-based AltaGas is proposing to drill a series of unconventional salt caverns about one kilometre underground to store natural gas in the Stewiacke region of Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia). Creating these caverns produces a staggering amount of brine wastewater, which AltaGas plans to dump into the Shubenacadie estuary. At full operation, the Alton Gas project will release approximately 10,000m3 of brine waste (3,170 tonnes of hard salt) into the river system every day. There are also methane leak and explosion risks associated with the cavern wellheads.
AltaGas’s Alton Gas project poses serious risks to the Sipekne'katik (Shubenacadie) River ecosystem and to those living nearby. This includes threats to endangered Atlantic salmon and striped bass. The project also threatens the health, livelihoods and rights of Indigenous communities, and the safety of people living near the cavern site.
An injunction hearing called by Alton Gas for March 12, 2019 is a troubling escalation of the company’s tactics to push ahead with a project that not only threatens the climate, species at risk, and the health of our water, but also flouts Indigenous rights.
EAC appealed the Province of Nova Scotia’s decision to approve operational permits for the Alton Gas Project in February, 2016. This appeal outlines several unknowns and data gaps throughout the Alton Gas Project environmental impact assessment. Our appeal was denied, along with others submitted by the Striped Bass Association, the Shubenacadie River Commercial Fisherman’s Association, Brentwood residents Colin and Valerie Hawks, and Sipekne’katik and Millbrook.
Neither Mi’kmaq nor non-Indigenous communities were meaningfully included in the decision to approve this project. Additionally, the company’s March 12, 2019 appeal to have RCMP remove Mi’kmaq rights holders from their own land ignores constitutionally protected Indigenous and Treaty Rights and contributes to the criminalization of Water Protectors.
Alton Gas has been pressing forward on their long-delayed project despite facing a number of regulatory hurdles. Crucially, the proposed Alton Gas project lacks the consent of Mi’kmaq rights holders, who have had their rights disrespected and their concerns repeatedly ignored. The company has also failed to meet their obligations to consult with Sipekne’katik First Nation two years after a Supreme Court of Nova Scotia order. And a recently announced Environmental and Climate Change Canada consultation process to regulate the brine waste Alton Gas proposes to dump into the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River has only just begun.
The Ecology Action Centre is an environmental charity operating in unceded Mi’kmaq territory. We take a holistic approach to contributing to a just and sustainable society, speaking out on critical environmental issues from biodiversity protection to climate change to environmental justice.
The communities facing the brunt of the direct environmental impacts of the Alton Gas project have not been involved in the planning of this project, and have not been adequately represented by our government. We believe this is a profound failure to respect Mi’kmaq rights holders, the rights of communities to shape their own future, and a missed opportunity to work respectfully with those seeking to create a better future for all Nova Scotians.
In solidarity with Mi’kmaq rights holders and communities, local fishers, and members of Alton and Brentwood, we believe that:
- The Alton Gas project should be halted until Free, Prior and Informed Consent has been given by Mi’kmaq rights holders.
- The Alton Gas project should be halted until Environment and Climate Change Canada has heard from rights holders and citizens about new proposed regulations under the Fisheries Act to regulate the company’s brine waste.
- Both AltaGas and the Government of Nova Scotia have a responsibility to respect Indigenous rights, including Mi’kmaq Treaty rights.
- The Alton Gas project represents a serious misstep by the Federal government in meeting its commitments to build strong nation-to-nation relationships based on respect.
- Environment Minister Margaret Miller should revoke the Industrial Approval for the Alton Gas project until these substantive issues and responsibilities are addressed.
For more information on the resistance to Alton Gas and to donate to the front lines visit: http: stopaltongas.wordpress.com