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Frustrated residents and Mi'kmaq block Alton Gas' gates

by Robert Devet

For most of the day residents of Brentwood, a community near Alton, blocked entry into the Alton Gas construction site. They are worried about their safety once the gigantic liquid natural gas storage facility is in production.They were never consulted, they say. Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet

(K'JIPUKTUK) HALIFAX – People in Brentwood, a rural community near Alton, Nova Scotia, are angry with Alton Natural Gas Storage LP.

So angry that today about 40 residents blocked all entry ways into the site where the Heritage Gas subsidiary is constructing a liquid natural gas storage facility. Two members of the RCMP kept an eye on the peaceful protest, but did not intervene.

Patty Elliott lives about a kilometre from where Alton Gas is working on the first of three planned underground caverns to store liquid natural gas. Each cavern is about the size of a 30-storey office building. Ultimately there may be as many as sixteen caverns.

“It's a safety issue, it's the closeness of the caverns,” says Elliott, pointing to large fire at a very similar facility in Saskatchewan that caused evacuations and is still burning six days later.

“I bought the property thirty years ago, and I just built a new house. Family, friends, and neighbours all helped,” Elliott tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “My grandchildren planned on growing up on that property, and that was the whole idea of building a house for all of us. But now we don't know what will happen.”

The blockade is supported by members of nearby Indian Brook First Nation. The Mi'kmaq worry what will happen when Alton Gas pipes large amounts of construction-generated salty brine into the Shubenacadie River.

“I am here to support my non-native brothers and sisters,” Doreen Bernard tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “We are together in this fight against Alton Gas. They were not consulted and didn't give their consent, and the Mi'kmaw people did not give their consent.”

“Our people have been here for 13,000 years. We have title to this land, and we want to pass on these lands to our children and future generations and keep our water and forests safe from what happened in Saskatchewan,” Bernard says.

Residents at the blockade don't remember ever being asked.

“We were never consulted,” says Elliott. “My son came in one day and he told me to take a look outside. And that was the first time you could see what was going on, not far from the house.”

Valerie Hawks, who has lived in Brentwood for eleven years, agrees. “This summer, all of a sudden all these trucks start coming through. By the time we found out what is going on, we didn't think we could stop it. Nobody on this road that I have spoken to knew about this.”

An interview that David Birkett, president of Alton Gas, gave to the Chronicle Herald late last week did not build any bridges between his company and the upset residents.

“I think there are a handful of people who are opposed, some of whom have indicated they don’t even want to meet with us and they haven’t read our environmental assessment,” said Birkett.

“How can he say that?" Hawks wonders. “We tried to meet with him, and he hid behind the mayor's skirts so he didn't have to talk to us. That was two weeks ago.” She refers to a meeting between Birkett and the Town of Stewiacke council, where angry residents were told that they were not welcome.

“If we had known about this seven years ago (when Alton Gas claimed it consulted with residents), then we would have done this seven years ago,” says Hawks, pointing to the blockade.

See also; Mi'kmaq and allies protest Shubenacadie River brine dump

Facebook groups for more information and future actions:

Mikmaq Nation Says No to Brine Waste in Shubie or Stewiacke Rivers

Stop Alton Gas

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert


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