'No easy solution' to Northern Pulp situation: N.S. premier

P&PC Staff
January 02, 2019
By P&PC Staff
January 2, 2019 – Northern Pulp's potential closure would have an impact on Nova Scotia's economy, acknowledges the province's premier, but he says there is "no easy solution" to the mill's ongoing controversy surrounding its effluent drainage plant. 

The Canadian Press reports that Stephen McNeil's government is preparing for every scenario, including if Northern Pulp's still-forthcoming environmental assessment application is rejected or if the mill doesn't meet its 2020 deadline to redirect its effluent.

The Abercrombie, Nova Scotia–based Northern Pulp, which is owned by Paper Excellence, has been ordered by McNeil's government to stop diverting its effluent through the nearby Pictou Landing First Nations reserve, and, in an effort to find an alternative, the mill has been attempting to conduct surveys of the water in Northumberland Strait as a site for the terminus of its pipeline.

Local fishermen, who say effluent flowing into the strait would be a threat to the environment and the fishing industry, blocked the mill's survey work with boat barricades for more than two months until an injunction was granted on December 19, 2018.

Related news
Northern Pulp granted injunction against fishermen's barricade
Northern Pulp calls on public for deadline help
Tensions rise between Northern Pulp and fishermen over effluent drainage

Kathy Cloutier, spokesperson for Paper Excellence, has said that the Northern Pulp mill will be forced to close if its proposed pipeline into the Northumberland Strait is rejected. 

McNeil, however, talked to The Canadian Press in late December 2018, saying, "There is no easy solution here and we are going to continue to look for options."

"The sawmill industry is so integrated into that particular mill, so if that mill is not there, what do we do to keep the viability of our sawmills?" he says. He notes that his government has given the mill five years to come up with a new plan, with a deadline of January 30, 2020. "This has been a five-year window," he says. "It's not like we said do this in 12 months."

The Canadian Press says that Northern Pulp's closure would result in the layoff of 277 employees, with wide-reaching impacts on the forestry sector in Nova Scotia. The mill supplies about 40 per cent of logs used by major sawmills in the central and eastern parts of the province, and it purchases nearly all of the wood chips produced by Nova Scotia sawmills.

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