In Nova Scotia, Alton Gas has a hugely destructive plan to create salt caverns in which to store natural gas, by dumping the equivalent of 3,000 tons of hard salt into the Shubenacadie river everyday. This massive 50 year project would seriously harm the river ecosystem and put the health, livelihoods and rights of the Mi’kmaq people at risk. It is also in contravention of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the deposit of “deleterious substances” into water frequented by fish.
This project does not meet the minimal requirements of consultation of local Indigenous communities. In January 2017, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that Sipekne’katik First Nation was not properly consulted during the environmental assessment process. This consultation has still not occurred.
Despite not meeting the requirements to build their project, Alton Gas filed an application late February with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to remove water protectors from the Alton Gas’s proposed project site.
Since September 2016, Mi’kmaq water protectors have been asserting their rights under the Peace and Friendship treaties by building infrastructure (the Treaty Truck House and then the Treaty Camp) on Shubenacadie River. For over 2 years, they have permanently occupied this site, effectively preventing the company from breaking the provincial, federal and treaty laws.
Now, in a surprise move, instead of opposing the Alton Gas project for not complying with federal regulations, the Federal government is looking to make completely new rules, just for Alton Gas, so that the project can go forward. This proves what Water Protectors have been asserting since last November: the current plan is not compliant with the Fisheries Act.
Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) clearly states “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their land or territories.” Any removal of Mi’kmaq people will directly violate UNDRIP along with the Trudeau government’s promise to fully implement the Declaration.
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Directions to the project site can be found here.