March 31, 2019 By P&PC Staff
March 31, 2019 – The province of Nova Scotia says it needs more time and information to review Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent drainage plan, leaving the future of the mill still in question.
According to The Canadian Press, Environment Minister Margaret Miller says Northern Pulp needs to flesh out the proposal it submitted on February 7 with a “focus report” that would include more data on potential impact to marine life and the treated effluent’s impact on drinking water.
The remaining questions from the provincial government will be provided on April 24, and the mill would have up to a year to answer them.
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 – meaning the mill may need to be idled if it takes the full year to provide the new focus report.
Northern Pulp’s proposed plan includes a new effluent treatment facility constructed on Northern Pulp property. A 15.5-kilometre water pipe would deliver treated effluent to Caribou Harbour.
The plan has been criticized by environmental and fisheries groups in Nova Scotia such as Friends of the Northumberland Strait, who say the new pipeline plan 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 – where the new pipeline would pass through – for more than two months in the fall of 2018, preventing Northern Pulp’s survey boats from accessing the waters to complete research required for its environmental assessment application.
Northern Pulp says there is ‘no plan B’ without deadline extension; will be ‘forced’ to close
Northern Pulp formally submits new effluent drainage plan
Northern Pulp asks for one-year extension on effluent plan
The mill maintains that the protests impacted its ability to complete its research in a timely manner, and has repeatedly asked for a one-year grace period on the January 2020 deadline to accommodate. Brian Baarda, CEO of Paper Excellence Canada, Northern Pulp’s parent company, reiterated the need for a deadline extension to reporters in Nova Scotia on Friday.
“We’re not going to be able to meet that deadline, given the information we received today,” he said, predicting that the company would need until 2021 to finish the pipeline with the new requirements.
Both Baarda and Jean-Francois Guillot, vice-president operations east for Paper Excellence Canada, have both said that there is no alternate plan if Northern Pulp is not granted the extension, saying the mill would need to shutter.
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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