Northern Pulp formally submits new effluent drainage plan
February 7, 2019 – Northern Pulp has formally submitted its plan to replace its effluent drainage facility at Boat Harbour, Nova Scotia, to the province’s environment department.
The proposed project sees a new effluent treatment facility constructed on Northern Pulp property, which includes a 15.5-kilometre water pipe to deliver treated effluent to Caribou Harbour – a controversial solution that has had environmental and fisheries groups in Nova Scotia rallying against Northern Pulp for months.
The Canadian Press reports that Northern Pulp’s plan will see the effluent flow through a 11.4-kilometre pipeline along Highway 106, then a 4.1-kilometre underwater stretch through Caribou Harbour before passing through a diffuser to help further dilute it before terminating in the waters of the Northumberland Strait.
As of today’s filing, the public has a 30-day window to comment on the plan.
The Abercrombie, Nova Scotia–based Northern Pulp, which is owned by Paper Excellence, has been ordered by the province to stop diverting its effluent through the nearby Pictou Landing First Nations reserve, which currently sees untreated effluent piped into the Boat Harbour facility before being emptied into the harbour.
The waters in the harbour are now polluted with toxic substances that the local communities say are a threat to the environment and fishermen's livelihoods. In October 2018, area fishermen staged a barricade of the strait using their boats to prevent Northern Pulp accessing the waters to complete survey work. The blockade lasted until a temporary injunction was issued by provincial court in late December, followed by a permanent injunction on January 29, 2019.
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The province has given Northern Pulp five years to move the drainage pipeline, and the deadline of January 2020 is quickly approaching.
Northern Pulp representatives have said they need the deadline extended to allow for more due diligence for each phase of their proposed wastewater plan, which premier Stephen McNeil has rejected. While executives have not said the mill would close if the deadline isn't extended, they did say they would not operate illegally under the Boat Harbour Act, which states that no effluent can be drained into the strait after January 2020.
“We all have the same goal, which is to see Boat Harbour returned to its natural state,” says Bruce Chapman, general manager with Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation. “We simply need a bit more time to carry out due diligence in each phase from environmental assessment, to construction and commissioning of this new facility.”
McNeil has said that he would be open to a deadline extension only if the public says it is interested, and if the Opposition brings it forward.
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