Proposed regulations for the Alton natural gas storage cavern development activities: notice of intent

Notice is hereby given that Environment and Climate Change Canada is initiating the development of proposed regulations made under section 36(5) of the Fisheries Act to govern the deposit of brine (a solution of salt in water) from natural gas storage cavern development activities at the Alton Natural Gas Storage Project site in Nova Scotia. The Alton Natural Gas Storage Project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by expanding the use of natural gas in home heating and electricity generation in Nova Scotia. The project is also anticipated to stabilize the price of natural gas by buffering seasonal price fluctuations. The natural gas would be stored in underground caverns that are developed using water from the nearby Shubenacadie River to dissolve underground salt formations in order to carve out the caverns. The resulting brine would be returned to the river via an artificial bypass channel. The project is designed to ensure that the salt concentration where the channel rejoins the river would not exceed the highest naturally occurring salt concentrations in the river.

The objective of the regulations under consideration is to manage the risk of potential threats to fish, fish habitat and human health from fish consumption by establishing conditions on any brine releases to the Shubenacadie River resulting from cavern development activities.

The regulations under consideration would apply only to the substance and activity within the scope outlined above. Any other deposits would remain subject to the general prohibition in subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, including any deposits made within the anticipated scope of the project before such time as the proposed regulation comes into force.

The proposed regulations are intended to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in 2020. In addition, there will be a comment period following the Canada Gazette publication, during which interested parties will have an opportunity to make written comments specific to the proposed regulations.

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