February 21, 2019 By P&PC Staff
February 21, 2019 – A new poll commissioned by Northern Pulp and its parent company, Paper Excellence Canada, indicates there is some public support for its proposed effluent treatment facility, which has been the centre of controversy in Nova Scotia over the past few months.
The data was collected using MQO Researcher’s Atlantic Matters poll, conducted by telephone from January 30 to February 10, 2019 with 400 randomly selected eligible voters from across the province.
The Abercrombie, Nova Scotia–based Northern Pulp 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 a facility before being emptied into Boat Harbour – by January 2020.
Earlier this month, Northern Pulp formally submitted its plan to the province’s environment department to replace that effluent drainage facility. 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 the mill.
According to the Atlantic Matters poll, 36 per cent of the voters surveyed support the new plan, whereas 27 per cent oppose it. Twenty-one per cent neither support nor oppose it, and 16 per cent say they don’t know.
The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
When asked what the impact the closure of Northern Pulp would have on the province’s economy, 65 per cent said it would either be very negative or somewhat negative.
On a local level, 76 per cent said the economic impact of Northern Pulp’s closure would be very negative or somewhat negative for Pictou County’s economy.
The companies released a statement that they are encouraged by the results of the poll.
“Our operation keeps people working in Pictou County and throughout the province – this research shows people understand that fact,” says Jean Francois Guillot, Paper Excellence Canada vice-president, operations east. “There are thousands of people who depend on Northern Pulp’s continued, uninterrupted operation.”
Northern Pulp representatives says it needs the province’s deadline extended to allow for more due diligence for each phase of their proposed wastewater plan, which premier Stephen McNeil has rejected.
“If an extension is not granted, thousands of jobs could be impacted. Once we have the approval to proceed, construction of the new treatment facility will begin immediately,” says Guillot. “We can and will complete this project. We just need a little bit more time to work through the various phases, starting with the environmental assessment which is now underway.”
Meanwhile, Friends of the Northumberland Strait – one of the environmental groups opposed to the mill’s new plan – has spoken out criticizing the province for its lack of transparency about the cause of a leak that occurred at Northern Pulp on October 21, 2018.
According to a Feb. 5 report by CBC News, the province says it is still investigating.
A petition against the effluent pipeline organized by the Friends of the Northumberland Strait and hosted on Change.org has more than 22,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
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