Federal government to regulate controversial Alton Gas cavern project

The federal government is stepping in to regulate a company's controversial plan to use water from one of Nova Scotia's major rivers to create huge underground caverns to store natural gas.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says the proposed regulations for the Alton Gas project will be aimed at managing potential threats to fish, fish habitat and human health.

For the past 12 years, Alton Gas has been planning to pump water from the Shubenacadie river to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, creating up to 15 caverns.

The leftover brine solution would then be pumped back into the river over a two- to three-year period.

Alton Gas says it has scientific studies showing the brine will not hurt the environment, but Indigenous protesters and their allies say aquatic life will be put at risk, and they have repeatedly asked Ottawa to get involved.

The federal department says the proposed regulations under the Fisheries Act are due later this year and will establish "conditions on any brine releases."