Update from Alton Natural Gas Storage

Posted on October 21, 2014

I want to provide you with an update on Alton Natural Gas Storage and encourage you to get in touch if you would like to meet, receive information or ask questions about the project.

As you probably know, we have been working on this project since 2006, conducting extensive environmental studies, consulting with stakeholders, and finalizing details of our project.

Site preparation and construction began in 2008, and recently over the summer months we began construction on the water intake site. We will begin construction of the first of three salt cavern natural gas storage wells in 2014/2015.

As you may know, salt caverns are a proven and safe system for storing natural gas. We will store natural gas until it is needed for heating homes, businesses, hospitals, universities and potentially for gas-fired electricity generation. This project brings numerous advantages to Nova Scotia, including millions of dollars of savings for Nova Scotia energy consumers, long-term stable and secure supply of natural gas and less price volatility in cold winters.

This will also help the residential, commercial and industrial communities in Colchester County have access to low cost natural gas in the future. It also moves the Province towards cleaner fuel and lower emissions.

To develop the caverns for our underground storage facility, naturally occurring salt must be removed from the ground. We drill a well into the existing salt formation and then cycle tidal water from the Shubenacadie River through the cavern to dissolve the salt in the deposit. The combination of tidal water and additional salt is cycled back up the well, leaving an empty space for natural gas storage.

The brine will be released into the Shubenacadie River as per the requirements of our monitoring program with Nova Scotia Environment, Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The release schedule has been designed to not impact the ecosystem of the Shubenacadie River.

We have looked at several options for removing and managing the salt and believe that this is the most viable option.

Since 2008, we have been monitoring and studying the Shubenacadie River to establish comprehensive ecological and environmental knowledge—one of, if not the, most detailed studies of the river ever conducted.

Information about our studies will continue to be available for anyone to review and ask us questions about. This research shows that the river naturally experiences a range of salt concentrations throughout its tidal cycle, which all organisms living in a tidal river are accustomed to. The release of brine is designed to mirror the natural salinity levels of the river.

We committed, and are required by our environmental assessment approval, to ensure that there is no negative impact to marine life in the river as a result of our operation. We are taking several measures to protect marine life. This includes shutting down the release of brine at certain times throughout the year.

We welcome First Nation participation, especially from those nearest to the project site. We have a history of mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal peoples in Canada and we hope to continue that in Nova Scotia.

We appreciate the ongoing opportunities to meet with many community members and organizations, and this input is helping us better understand and respond to potential concerns.

A Community Liaison Committee is being set-up and we are preparing a new website to provide more detailed information on the project and a forum for us to receive ongoing feedback and to respond to questions.

We have and will continue to provide opportunities to provide you and others with as much information as possible, and answer your questions.

Contact us at 87 Main Street, 2nd Floor, Stewiacke, Nova Scotia or call (902)639-0092 or click here to visit our website. You can also write us at altonproject@altagas.ca

We welcome opportunities to meet and encourage questions and comments.

David Brikett
Alton Natural Gas Storage

PDF download of release