After years of opposition, an Alberta energy company has abandoned its plan to create huge salt caverns north of Halifax to store natural gas.
AltaGas announced Friday it will decommission the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project near Stewiacke, N.S., because the company has shifted its focus since 2018 when it sold its interest in the Halifax-based natural gas utility Heritage Gas Ltd.
As well, AltaGas said the project had experienced challenges and delays, referring to the opposition the project faced from Indigenous protesters and their allies.
Those opposed to the project had long complained about the company’s plan to remove large, underground salt deposits by flushing them out with water from the nearby Shubenacadie River.
The plan also called for dumping the leftover brine into the tidal river, where it would flow into the Bay of Fundy.
The company had said the caverns were needed to assure a steady supply of natural gas in the colder months when peak demand can lead to supply shortages and price spikes.
“In the coming weeks and months, we will be discussing next steps related to decommissioning the project with regulators at the provincial and federal governments, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and other key stakeholders,” the company said in a statement.
“As we begin the process to decommission Alton, we will continue working to minimize our environmental impact as we remain committed to the health of the Shubenacadie River estuary.”
The opposition to the project even drew in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while he was on the 2019 campaign trail. A Mi’kmaw grandmother, who confronted Trudeau at a Liberal stop in Halifax, told APTN News that she told him that the Alton Gas project must be stopped and the company must leave her territory.
“I asked him to consider what is going on in our province,” said Grandmother Darlene Gilbert. “That he’s bringing in companies and they are going to come and they are going to put substances into our waters… they are going to brine our waters, they are going to ruin our waters.
“That’s our travel ways. That’s our fishing rights, we have treaty rights on that river.”
With files from Angel Moore