Les résidents se rallient contre la proposition de stockage de gaz naturel

Le gouvernement du Nouveau-Brunswick a récemment accordé un permis d'exploration à une compagnie qui est à la recherche de cavernes de sel dans une zone s'étendant sur 40 000 acres dans le comté Kings au NB; on voudrait y stocker du gaz naturel. Si le projet se matérialisait, un gazoduc serait mis en place pour acheminer les produits pétroliers des cavernes de stockage vers le nord-est des États-Unis où ces produits seraient utilisés.

L'auteure Otty Forgraves fait revivre aux lecteurs la séquence d'évènements qui a précédé la formation du comité de citoyens qui oppose ce projet. Ce comité a fait des recherches poussées sur cette proposition et sur d'autres semblables un peu partout en Amérique du Nord. Et, sans compter les dangers représentés par de tels projets, les principales inquiétudes se sont révélées celles qui proviennent des effets que des projets cette nature peuvent avoir sur l'approvisionnement en eau, l'environnement, et la valeur des propriétés.

Les résidents que représente ce comité espèrent convaincre le gouvernement de laisser tomber le projet proposé avant qu'il commence.

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Residents Rally Against Natural Gas Storage Proposal

Otty Forgraves
The Quality of Life Initiative
February 2009

n Kings County, New Brunswick, you will find several small rural communities made up of residents who have chosen to live in this area. Many have lived here all of their lives, whereas more and more have moved to the area to enjoy the benefits of a country way of life. Among those benefits are such things as beautiful scenery, privacy, clean air, good water, and nature at its best.

Such is the case for residents living in the region stretching from Markhamville to Smithtown, including Hammondvale, Upperton, Hillsdale, Poodiac, Cassidy Lake, Southfield, Salt Springs, Upham, Titusville, Barnesville, and others. People living here have become very concerned after receiving word that a natural gas company was interested in the area. Residents have learned that a company has been given an exploration license from the New Brunswick Government, covering close to 40,000 acres, to look into the prospect of flushing out salt caverns for the purpose of storing petroleum products, among which could be natural gas, crude oil, propane, and butane. The flushing of these caverns would require massive amounts of water; the resulting brine would be piped to the Bay of Fundy.

The Quality of Life Initiative protest in Fredericton, December 4, 2009.
(Photo: Otty Forgraves)

Why the need to store natural gas? The thought behind the salt cavern storage is that large amounts of natural gas and other petroleum products can be stored for future use and sold to the markets in the northeastern USA and Atlantic Canada when price and demands peak.

On May 26, 2008, Corridor Resources Inc. hosted an open house in Southfield, N.B., to provide information on its potential gas storage facility. Several attended this meeting and many questions were asked, but those attending did not feel satisfactory answers were received. Weeks later, a few residents of the area met to discuss the proposal and felt they needed to get input from others as to their thoughts and feelings. It was learned that many people had never heard of the proposal and were shocked to hear of such a thing for the area.

Other meetings were held, each with increasing attendance - up to 200 people or more. "The Quality of Life Initiative" was chosen as a name for the group. An executive has been elected and several committees set up, for example, Research, Public awareness, Government Liaison, Media, and Fundraising. These committees have been very active. A web site has also been set up for the group.

Sign at information rally in Hampton.
(Photo: Otty Forgraves)

Much research has been done by the group. It has been learned that there are 29 facilities in the USA similar to what is being proposed for this area, mostly in the southern states. Of those facilities, the accident rate is high. Ten have had major accidents. Also, the USA does not utilize salt caverns in the north-eastern states for storage because the geology is not suitable. How is our N.B. geology any different? The more we learn, the more concerned we are.

Our first main concern is the effects that a project of this nature might have on our water supply, as a majority of homes depend on their own private wells for water, while others depend on natural springs. To flush out the proposed salt caverns will require

"…10,000 cubic metres per day which is 1830 gallons per minute water supply over the long term. For a single 2 billion cubic foot (Bcf) cavern, 4.5 million or 1190 million US gallons of water would be required. Each 2 Bcf cavern would require 10,000 m3/d of water for about a 15 month period."
-- Report for Corridor Resources by Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, Dartmouth, N.S., January 30, 2004.

Our second concern is the safety of the project. A pipe line would run from Penobsquis to the storage site in the proposed area, then a line would run to Saint John to connect to the Maritime and Northeast Pipeline (M&NP) system. What happens if a pipe line ruptures?

Our third concern is the environment itself - streams, rivers, lakes, springs, wildlife, plants, and forest. What happens to these if a leak occurs?

Our fourth concern is property value. If any resident wishes to sell property, would anyone be interested in purchasing it, knowing such a facility is nearby?

The Quality of Life Initiative protest in Fredericton, December 4, 2009.
(Photo: Otty Forgraves)

The Quality of Life Initiative has been active in various ways:
-Letters of protest have been sent to the Minister of Natural Resources
-A meeting was held in Sussex with members of the Department of Natural Resources, at which time they were presented with a number of questions.
-An information rally took place in Hampton on November 29, 2008.
-Information tables have been set up at different community events.
-Approximately 100 members went to Fredericton on December 4, 2008, and held a protest in front of the New Brunswick Legislature and met with the Minister of Natural Resources, Wally Stiles. MLAs Bev Harrison and Bruce Northrup presented a petition to the House with over 2200 names on behalf of the residents.
-We've been interviewed several times by the media, and we appreciate the coverage they have given our group.

We have been encouraged by the number of other groups that have shown a concern over this proposed project.

We have been asked the question, "Why are you so concerned when this is just in the exploration stage?" We are well aware of the hardships the neighboring community of Penobsquis has experienced over the last four or five years with the loss of their water supply. Therefore, the residents of our communities are being proactive. We hope to persuade the government to say "NO" to this proposed project before it begins and causes any danger to our Quality of Life.