Jump to Content
press release

Shubenacadie River water protectors at controversial Alton Gas project to appear in court

March 11, 2019

Ecojustice defends Dale Poulette and Rachael Greenland-Smith against injunction on March 12.

HALIFAX, March 11, 2019 – Two individuals from the Treaty Camp at a proposed Alton Gas site will appear at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on Tuesday at 2:00 pm AT for an injunction proceeding, defended by the environmental law firm Ecojustice. Dale Poulette, a member of the Eskasoni First Nation, lives at the Treaty Camp near where Alton Gas proposes to dump brine from a natural gas project into the Sipekne’katik (Shubenacadie) River. Rachael Greenland-Smith supports the Camp.

Mr. Poulette is asserting his Treaty and Aboriginal Right and duty to care for the Sipekne’katik River, and believes that the discharge of brine from Alton Gas’s project will harm the ecosystem. He was asked by Elders of his Mi’kmaq Community to assume the sacred duty of protecting the environment around the river.

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia reviewed the Indigenous consultation in respect of the Alton Gas project and found it to have been unfair and therefore inadequate. The Court returned the issue of consultation back to Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment, and the issue has yet to be resolved.

James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, lawyer for Ecojustice, said:

“Dale Poulette and Rachael Greenland-Smith are protesting peacefully and effectively against an activity that they believe will harm the environment, which is their legal right. Dale has assumed a sacred duty to protect the Sipekne’katik River, and he takes this responsibility very seriously.

“The Alton Gas project faces more stumbling blocks than Dale’s presence. At present, it would not be legal for Alton Gas to discharge the brine into the river under the Fisheries Act. New regulations would have to be written and approved. As well, the Indigenous consultation for this project was found to be inadequate in 2017, so that’s another issue that has yet to be resolved.”

About the project:

  • The project, led by Alton Gas, requires the construction of natural gas storage caverns in a salt deposit about 1 km below ground, not far from Alton, Nova Scotia.
  • The waste water used to hollow out the caverns will be discharged into the Sipekne’katik River, 12 km from the cavern site.
  • The release of brine into the river by Alton Gas is currently not legal under the Fisheries Act. Alton Gas will require new regulations to be created under the Act’s section 36(5). Until such regulations are made, the project cannot proceed.
  • The project received environmental assessment approval in 2008, and now that most of the project infrastructure has been constructed, Alton Gas hopes it will become operational in 2019.