A Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice has ruled that he should be the judge to decide whether or not to grant the Sipekne’katik Band’s request to delay Alton Natural Gas Storage Project’s operations later this summer.
Justice Michael J. Wood made his decision in a letter dated June 27 and sent to the lawyers for the Sipekne’katik Band, the Minister of Environment and the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project LP.
Justice Wood also informed the parties that his decision on the band’s request for a stay would not be finalized until mid-July.
Kukukwes.com obtained a copy of Justice Wood’s letter.
“After considering your submissions, I have concluded that I should give a decision on the stay motion rather than defer the issue to the hearing judge,” Justice Wood wrote in the letter.
“I will not be in a position to have the decision finalized in time to deliver it on June 28th at 1:00 p.m. and so that hearing will be cancelled,” Justice Wood explained.
“You can expect to receive a written decision which will be available by no later than mid-July,” Justice Wood wrote.
During a court hearing held June 22, Sipekne’katik asked Justice Wood to grant its request for a stay a decision by the Nova Scotia government to approve the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project until the outcome of its appeal on the same decision is determined.
The stay would delay Alton Gas’ plans to start releasing salt brine water into the Shubenacadie River August 29.
The appeal hearing is scheduled for August 17-18 at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. Justice Joshua M. Arnold will preside over the hearing.
Lawyers for both Alton Gas and the Minister of Environment argued against the band’s stay request.
Sipekne’katik filed appeal against project in February
Alton Gas plans to construct salt caverns near the Shubenacadie River to store natural gas. The company intends to flush out the salt from the caverns using tidal water from the river.
The salt water mixture, called brine, would be stored in holding ponds before being released into the Shubenacadie River.
The Sipekne’katik Band has claimed that it wasn’t properly consulted on the project, which started in 2007. The band has concerns about the effects the salt brine water may have on species in the river such as the striped bass and salmon.
Band members and local residents held several protests against the project in the fall of 2014.
In January, the Nova Scotia government granted approvals to Alton Natural Gas Storage LP to operate a brine storage pond, complete the dispersion channel and construct a dyke on crown land near Stewiake, N.S.
In February, Sipekne’katik, along with five other organizations, filed an appeal on the provincial government’s decision with the Nova Scotia Environment Minister Margaret Miller.
In April, Miller dismissed all six appeals but she indicated in her decision that the parties have a right to appeal her decision in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
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