Northern Pulp to resume survey work in Northumberland Strait
April 12, 2019 – Northern Pulp is set to continue its survey work in the Northumberland Strait two weeks after receiving word from the province of Nova Scotia that it would need submit further information to complete an environmental impact report for its new wastewater treatment plan.
The News, a Nova Scotia news outlet, reports that Kathy Cloutier, spokesperson for Northern Pulp's parent company, Paper Excellence, indicated work will begin as early as Monday, April 15.
Northern Pulp has been ordered by the province to stop diverting its untreated effluent through a treatment facility close to the Pictou Landing First Nations reserve and into Boat Harbour by January 2020. In order to keep operating, the mill must find an alternative way to dispose of its effluent.
Northern Pulp’s proposed replacement plan, which it submitted to the province on February 7, includes a new effluent treatment facility constructed on Northern Pulp property. A 15.5-kilometre water pipe would deliver treated effluent to Caribou Harbour, in the Northumberland Strait.
On March 29, Nova Scotia Environment Minister Margaret Miller said Northern Pulp needs to flesh out the proposal with a “focus report” that would answer remaining questions from the government and include more data on potential impact to marine life and the treated effluent’s impact on drinking water.
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The government's questions (terms of reference) will be provided on April 24, and the mill would have up to a year to answer them. The mill maintains it will need an extension on the January 2020 deadline in order to continue operating.
Northern Pulp's new plan has been criticized by environmental and fisheries groups in Nova Scotia such as Friends of the Northumberland Strait, who say it remains a threat not only to the environment, but also the livelihoods of the local fishermen.
Fishermen created a blockade of boats on the Northumberland Strait for more than two months in the fall of 2018, preventing Northern Pulp’s survey boats from accessing the waters to complete the research required for its environmental assessment application to the province.
In January 2019, Northern Pulp won a permanent injunction to stop the fishermen from barricading the strait.
Mill representatives say the new plan is better for the environment than the existing system it and 80 per cent of other kraft mills use, which sends untreated effluent to aerating and settling lagoons.
Jean-Francois Guillot, vice-president operations east with Paper Excellence, has said that the project, once completed, “will be one of the most environmentally responsible mills in Canada.”
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