Sipekne’katik Band to appeal Alton Gas approval in NS Supreme Court 

Alton Gas plans to construct salt caverns along the Shubenacadie River/Photo by Stephen Brake

The Sipekne’katik Band in Nova Scotia plans to take its appeal of the Alton Gas storage project to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

“Yes, we’re filing an appeal,” Sipekne’katik Band Chief Rufus Copage said Monday. He also said the band will also seek a court injunction to prevent any work from moving forward until the issue is dealt with through the courts.

On Monday, the Nova Scotia Environment Minister Margaret Miller dismissed the two remaining appeals against the province’s decision to approve the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project. Miller previously dismissed four appeals on April 18, including one filed by Sipekne’katik.

“Having now completed my review of all six appeals, I am satisfied that the terms and conditions of the approval have adequately considered potential impacts resulting from the activity and that the appropriate measures are in place to prevent adverse effects to the Shubenacadie River,” Miller stated in a news release issued Monday afternoon.

“I am also satisfied that there was ample opportunity for on-going public interaction and communication with the company on the project,” she stated.

Nova Scotia Government approved Alton Gas Project in January

In January, the Nova Scotia government granted approvals and permits to Alton Gas to continue with its plan to create underground salt caverns along the Shubenacadie River to store natural gas.

The company plans to remove the salt from the ground by drilling into the salt formation and flooding it with tidal water from the river to dissolve it. The combination of the tidal water and salt, called brine, will be pumped  into a holding pond and then release it back into the river.

In February, Sipekne’katik, along with six other groups and residents filed appeals with the provincial Department of the Environment against the Alton Gas project. They included the Ecology Action Centre, the Council of Canadians, Nova Scotia Striped Bass Association, Shubenacadie River Commercial Fishermen’s Association and residents Colin and Valerie Hawks.

Sipekne’katik chief and council will hold a community meeting May 2 in Indian Brook First Nation to update community members on the Alton Gas storage project.

Last Friday, the Sipekne’katik Band issued a news release stating the Alton Gas project would “negatively impact Treaty and Aboriginal rights such as fishing, hunting and gathering.”

“Sipekne’katik encourages individuals to continue to lawfully enjoy and respect our natural habitat through activities such fishing, hunting and gathering along the Shubenacadie River,” the news release stated.

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About Maureen Googoo 270 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news more than 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.