Alton Gas' consultations with the community were insufficient, says N.S. judge
HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia judge has ruled the operators of a project to store natural gas in underground caverns must delay their project until further talks with a Mi’kmaq community are complete.
The Sipekne’katik First Nation argued last month before Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Frank Edwards that Alton Gas’ consultations with the community were insufficient.
In his written decision rendered March 24, Edwards agreed, reversing former Nova Scotia environment minister Margaret Miller’s approval for the project located north of Halifax.
The decision requires the parties to resume talks for 120 days, “or for such time as the parties mutually agree,” but allows for a flexible start date based on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Edwards says the company and the band could wait until the province’s chief medical officer of health declares the crisis is over, or agree on an “alternative remote arrangement.”
The subsidiary of Calgary-based energy company AltaGas is proposing to pump water from the Shubenacadie River to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it would be used to flush out salt deposits and create up to 15 storage caverns.
In a news release issued March 24, the company said it “remains committed to ongoing, open dialogue with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia including Sipekne’katik about the Alton Project, including its environmental and safety safeguards, and the opportunities the Alton Project presents for Nova Scotians.”