After a week-long blockade at the site of a pulp mill effluent spill, the Nova Scotia government has acceded to the demands of the Pictou Landing First Nation to shut down the waste water treatment facility used by Northern Pulp Nova Scotia. Provincial officials have met with the protest leaders and agreed to introduce legislation by this time next year that will facilitate discussions with the Pictou Landing First Nation to eventually close the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility.
Effluent from the Northern Pulp NBSK pulp mill in Abercrombie Point, N.S., is treated off-site at the Boat Harbour facility, which is owned by the provincial government but managed by Northern Pulp.
A leak in the pipe which carries effluent from the mill to the treatment facility was found on June 10. The mill immediately ceased production. The neighboring First Nation band blockaded the site, allowing clean-up crews and equipment on the site, but not permitting the repair of the broken pipe.
The pipeline carries about 70,000 cubic metres of waste water per day from the mill to the treatment site.
It was announced on June 16 that the band had reached an agreement with the government about the replacement or relocation of the effluent treatment plant.
David MacKenzie, communications manager for Northern Pulp, told the Chronicle Herald on June 16 that he does not know how long it will take to fix the problem and get the mill running again.
“We’re happy to hear that an agreement has been reached,” said MacKenzie. “It was a long week for our workers and our families.” The shutdown affected 260 workers in the mill and hundreds of others in the woodlands and at local sawmills.
The Chronicle Herald explains that the provincial government built the effluent facility next to the Pictou Landing First Nation in 1967 and continues to own it. In 1995, the owner of the pulp mill took over management, but not ownership, of the waste treatment plant.