OPINION: Alton Gas shares factual information about project

Letter to the Editor Online First Opinions

To the Editor:

We appreciate the opportunity to share factual information about the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project with your readers.

To help meet the increasing demand for affordable natural gas year-round in Nova Scotia and to support the demand for clean, reliable energy, Alton is developing an underground natural gas storage facility and associated pipelines near Stewiacke. Natural gas and natural gas storage have an important role to play in Nova Scotia’s energy future. The new gas storage facility will help secure Nova Scotia’s natural gas supply, stabilize prices for natural gas customers in the province and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions because natural gas is cleaner burning than coal or fuel oil.

At the Alton work site on the Shubenacadie River estuary, there is equipment and information signage that must be checked and maintained. Recently, an Alton staff member and contractors were briefly at the river site to replace signage. Law enforcement representatives were present for the maintenance visit. We respect the rights of individuals to express their views peacefully; however the Alton river site is open only to Alton staff and to approved contractors, and the signage communicates that information.

To create the natural gas storage caverns, water will be drawn from the tidal Shubenacadie River estuary to dissolve the underground salt deposits in a process called brining. The water is drawn from a constructed channel built alongside the river.

The tidal Shubenacadie River estuary has a wide range of salinity depending on the tide and rainfall. All organisms living in a tidal river are accustomed to a range and quick changes in salinity. Nearly 10 years of expert research and scientific monitoring of the Shubenacadie has been conducted, the most extensive study of the river to date.

Regarding comments about mud in the Alton channel, the mud build up was expected because brining has not yet started, which means water is not being drawn from the channel or released back into it. Through the gradual two to three year brining process, the steady water movement in and out of the channel will help prevent mud build up. As well, another design feature to reduce mud build up includes mixing air with the brine during its release. We explained the mud in the channel in the September 2017 community newsletter for Alton which can be found at www.altonnaturalgasstorage.ca.

Regarding the number of storage caverns at Alton, three wells were drilled for possible cavern development, not four. At this time, we plan to proceed with two storage caverns to meet the needs of natural gas customers in Nova Scotia. Natural gas is used today by a wide range of customers in Nova Scotia including thousands of homes, many of the province’s largest industries and employers, commercial and manufacturing businesses and many of the province’s universities and hospitals. Natural gas also helps to fuel Nova Scotia’s electricity grid by providing quick-acting, reliable generation that can support the addition of further renewable energy sources.

Typical natural gas users in Nova Scotia convert from much more carbon-intensive fuels such as heavy and light fuel oils. Because natural gas emits 30 per cent less carbon dioxide than fuel oil and 50 per cent less than coal, natural gas plays an important role helping Nova Scotia meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets and improving air quality.

Since 2006, Alton has been meeting with stakeholders including landowners, community members, government and the Mi’kmaq to share information and exchange viewpoints. Alton has received all environmental and industrial approvals for construction. Two environmental assessments have been conducted for Alton, as well as an independent, third-party science review led by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. Alton fully accepted all recommendations from the third-party review.

To date, $69 million has been invested to develop Alton and the project is an investment of more than $130 million in rural Nova Scotia. Since 2014, more than 70 Nova Scotia companies have provided goods, services and labour to Alton.

Visit www.altonnaturalgasstorage.ca to learn more about Alton and natural gas storage in Nova Scotia.


Lori MacLean

Senior Advisor

Alton Natural Gas Storage Project