After extensive consultation and upgraded project monitoring the next phase of the Alton Natural Gas Storage facility project in Colchester County will receive several government permits and can proceed.
Government will grant the company, Alton Natural Gas Storage Facility LP, the following permits:
— the industrial approval to operate the brine storage pond from the Department of Environment
–- the lease of submerged Crown land to complete the dispersion channel from the Department of Natural Resources
— an agreement to construct a dyke on Crown lands from the Department of Agriculture
“After thorough scientific assessment, various consultations and amendments to the project plans, government believes the project is safe and does not threaten the environment. The next phase of the project can move ahead,” said Michel Samson, Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister. “This project has the potential to save natural gas customers $17 million each year and ensure there is enough gas to meet customer needs when energy demands are highest.”
The approvals come after an additional extensive aboriginal consultation of the proposed project to develop a series of salt caverns to store natural gas. As a result of concerns raised by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and Sipekne’katik Band about potential environmental impacts of the project, an independent third-party scientific review of the project was commissioned by the assembly in April 2015.
A technical working group involving the provincial and federal governments, Alton and representatives of the assembly completed additional analysis of the potential environmental impact on traditional fish species, including salmon, sturgeon and eels. The project is not expected to have a significant environmental impact.
Changes as a result of this process:
–- the monitoring program of the project has been improved to include new protocols and increased frequency
–- the company will also extend its annual shutdown period during the peak spawning season for striped bass by an additional 10 days to 24 days
–- the company is also required to create a community liason committee and a Mi’kmaq engagement plan in the ongoing science and monitoring plan
“Government respects that the Shubenacadie River is significant to the Mi’kmaq people,” said Mr. Samson. “That’s why we’ve concentrated the past 18 months on bringing together representatives from all parties with science experts to identify concerns and solutions and gather further information that could be shared with communities.”
Aboriginal consultation on the project first began in 2007. Environmental impacts were assessed and approved for both the storage facility and the pipeline components of the project.
Aboriginal consultation and a regulatory review will continue on the pipeline component of the project. For more information about the project, visit novascotia.ca/energy .