Fishermen join Mi'kmaq in Alton gas storage protest
Company says project is safe and it's happy to have an open dialogue with fishermen
Some recreational and commercial fishermen who fish the waters of the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers worry flushing briny waste water from underground into the tidal rivers could have a devastating impact on fish.
The fishermen have joined Mi'kmaq people who have concerns. Mi’kmaq leaders are not pleased with what they say is a lack of consultation about the proposal to create an underground gas storage facility.
Some say they worry no one knows about the impact and they fear the brine is not properly monitored.
The company has said the brine will be diluted enough by the massive volume of water in the rivers, as not to have a negative impact on fish.
The two rivers are one of the few habitats in the region where striped bass thrive.
Tommy Watson has been fishing bass in the rivers for 57 years.
"This is the only place left for bass to spawn, or that’s what [the Department of Fisheries and Oceans] claims. So, this salt’s going to do something to them," he said.
Darren Porter is a commercial fishermen.
"I'm worried that they don't know enough about what they're going to do and they're not policed," he said.
Porter and other fishermen are now doing what some members of the Mi'kmaq community did earlier in the week.
They're making themselves visible by the edge of Highway 102 to try and bring the issue to the attention of drivers.
A crew of 70 people is currently working on a huge site where a rig is drilling holes for pipes that will carry water from the Shubenacadie River 12 kilometres away to dissolve salt caverns. Another set of pipes will carry the salty water back to the same river to be flushed away with the powerful current.
Alton Natural Gas Storage, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas, wants to store natural gas in three underground salt caverns that will be about 1,000 metres underground. AltaGas is the same Canadian company that owns the Heritage Gas distribution business.
Each of the caverns is expected to measure about 80 metres high by 50 metres wide, about the size of an average office building.
The company says the project is safe and it's happy to have an open dialogue with fishermen.