Nova Scotia

Expansion of Walton explosives depot could be in the works

In July, the Municipality of West Hants refused oil services giant Halliburton a land-use amendment needed for the project. But last month, Halliburton appealed the rejection to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Halliburton appealed West Hants's refusal to grant a land-use amendment needed for the project

The West Hants planning committee voted down an application by oil and gas giant Halliburton to rezone land in Walton, N.S., citing safety and transparency concerns. (Robert Short/CBC)

A deal may be in the works that would allow the expansion of an explosives depot outside Walton, N.S.

In July, the Municipality of West Hants refused to grant oil services giant Halliburton a land-use amendment needed for the project. But last month, Halliburton appealed the rejection to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

"The parties advised during the preliminary hearing that they were optimistic a settlement could be reached between the parties that would effectively allow the LUB (land-use bylaw) amendment to proceed, subject to the Board's review," board clerk Bruce Kiley wrote in a Sept. 18 letter to lawyers for both sides.

Abraham Zebian, warden of West Hants, declined comment and referred CBC News to municipal staff.

"The Halliburton matter is still in the hands of our municipal solicitor and, as a result, we will not be providing a comment at this time," Martin Laycock, chief administrative officer, said in an emailed statement to CBC.

The Halliburton project involves an office, three magazine buildings to store explosives and a facility to assemble explosive devices for oil and gas wells in Eastern Canada.

The explosives would be used to perforate steel to allow oil and gas to flow in and to help remove pipes from wells when production ends.

The case is set to go before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on Oct. 24.

Municipal staff deemed the application to be consistent with rezoning criteria and compatible with adjacent land uses.

Nearby fire chiefs had no concerns.

But a council planning committee voted 5-2 on July 18 to reject the application.

At the time, Zebian said he had concerns about safety, which were heightened when he learned there is at least one resident who lives in close proximity to the site.

"The application was positively recommended to us based on it being in a remote area that's not densely populated," he said.

"But a resident is a resident is a resident, regardless of where you are located, whether it's densely or not. Nobody is valued over anybody else."

Halliburton did not immediately respond to CBC News request for comment on settlement discussions.

In a July statement, a company spokesperson said Halliburton is "disappointed with the vote," but the decision "does not stop the permitting process."

"We look forward to further engaging with the council and members."

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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