Alton Gas goes to court to remove protesters from work site
Company heading project wants to create large underground storage caverns
The company heading a controversial project that would see natural gas stored in huge underground caverns north of Halifax has gone to court to remove protesters from its work site.
Alton Natural Gas LP says it has filed an application in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia requesting safe access to its Alton River facilities near Shubenacadie, and is seeking to remove protesters who are trespassing on its property and who have "consistently" blocked access to the site.
Court documents list Dale Poulette and Rachel Greenland-Smith as the respondents.
The company says the step was necessary and comes after attempts at "engagement and discussion" with the individuals at the site. It said power was recently lost at the facility and a recent inspection found flooding had damaged electrical equipment.
The company says it's "essential" to have "immediate and unobstructed access" to assess the damage and to conduct repairs. It says the work is needed to ensure the safety of its workers, neighbours and those who may attempt to enter without authorization.
"While we respect the right of individuals to express their views safely and peacefully, trespassing at Alton has been an ongoing concern for some time," the company said in a news release issued Friday.
"This step was necessary and comes after attempts at engagement and discussion with the individuals at the site. We remain committed to keeping the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, surrounding communities, landowners and other stakeholders engaged as we advance this important project."
The company was not immediately available for further comment.
Protesters fear for water quality
Alton Natural Gas LP intends to use water from the Shubenacadie River to flush out underground salt deposits to create the caverns east of Alton, N.S., then pump the leftover brine solution into the river. The plan has raised the concern of Indigenous protesters who have set up a permanent camp near the waterway.
Members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation in nearby Indian Brook argue that the project will damage the 73-kilometre tidal river, which runs through the middle of mainland Nova Scotia.
Alton maintains the project will provide millions of dollars in savings to natural gas customers in Nova Scotia.
The company said it has invested approximately $70 million to date.
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