Highway 102 down to one lane for Alton Gas protest

Demonstrators handed out information pamphlets about the project to drivers on the southbound lane near Exit 11 on Highway 102.

Demonstrators handing out pamphlets about the natural gas storage project to drivers

Highway 102 was down to one lane southbound by Exit 11 so demonstrators could hand out pamphlets to drivers. (@NSShadesofGreen/Twitter)

A group of people protesting the Alton natural gas storage project caused some traffic delays on Highway 102 near Stewiacke, N.S., Saturday afternoon. 

Demonstrators were handing out information pamphlets about the project to drivers on the southbound lane near Exit 11. They planned to be in the area until 3 p.m. 

The province approved an application by AltaGas Ltd. to store natural gas in three underground salt caverns in Alton, near Stewiacke, back in January.  

Dozens of people, from residents to First Nations groups to environmental groups, took part in Saturday's Alton Gas demonstration. (@NSShadesofGreen/Twitter)

Brine and caverns

Organizers of the protest say the main concern is about the release of salty water from drilling the underground caverns into the Shubenacadie River system. 

"They can never be filled back in. They're 30-storey building sized holes and they want to put up to 18 of them in and so is that going to affect water tables?" said Collin Hawks, who lives 0.3 km from the project.

A 'joint effort'

Hawks said the drilling "affects the property values and people's way of life out there." 

He said residents as well as people from the Ecology Action Centre, the Council of Canadians, Amnesty International and First Nations are participating. 

"It's a joint effort and signage shows that," he said.  

Police said they were aware of the demonstration and were monitoring it.

'Something that can never be repaired'

Hawks said the goal of the demonstration is to make people aware of the project. 

"It's something that can never be repaired. At some point the project, we believe there will be an issue with it and there's no going back. The government is basically saying we'll mitigate any issues is their response to everything. Well if there's an issue you can't put it back," he said.

"There's no fixing your water table, there's no fixing the river and or the ecosystem affected by brine and or caverns."

Alton responds

The province approved the Alton Natural Gas storage project in January 2016. (CBC)

Alton Natural Gas Storage L.P. responded to the High 102 demonstration in a press release, saying it has been meeting with landowners, community members, government and First Nations since 2006.

"It is unfortunate that today's demonstration inconvenienced the travelling public on Highway 102. We prefer to engage with stakeholders in a respectful manner that acknowledges differing opinions but works toward shared solutions," the company said.

The company says it will continue to engage people about the project they say will help provide Nova Scotians with "affordable, reliable natural gas year round."

Alton also says they're committed to protecting the the Shubenacadie River and the fish and fish habitat that live there.

Further action

The Ecology Action Centre is also protesting the project with a Brine and Cheese Party at the brewery farmers market in Halifax. They'll be dressing up like waiters and handing out samples of cheese while telling people about the project.

Sipekne'katik First Nation protested the project in front of Province House in April. 

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.