By Mike Jiggens
May 22, 2018 – One of northeastern Nova Scotia’s largest employers and a key cog in the local forestry sector claims that without the means to pipe treated wastewater into the Northumberland Strait, there can be no Northern Pulp mill.
The Canadian Press reports that Northern Pulp wishes to pump its wastewater into the strait after years of pumping its wastewater into lagoons near the Pictou Landing First Nation reserve. About 70 million litres of wastewater is pumped each day. The environmental issue has created a rift between the company and the Town of Pictou. Some properties in town bear signs that state: “No Pulp Waste in Our Water.”
The mill has been mandated by the province to replace its current wastewater treatment plant in Boat Harbour by 2020. The wastewater lagoons have been called some of the worst environmental pollution in Nova Scotia and perhaps Canada. Chief Andrea Paul of the local Mi’kmaq community said she shares concerns with Northumberland Strait region fishermen about what damage a wastewater pipe leading to the strait might do to the environment.
In 2015, the Nova Scotia government promised to clean up the treatment lagoon sites at an estimated cost of $133 million.
Paul told the Canadian Press she believes the piping of wastewater into the lagoons was permitted to happen for the past 50-plus years because of Northern Pulp’s importance to the town. The company employs more than 300 people.
Kathy Cloutier, a spokesperson for Paper Excellence – Northern Pulp’s parent company – said she acknowledged the history of the piping of treated wastewater but suggested a new treatment plant presents an opportunity. The new plant, announced last December, is to meet federal and environmental standards for suspended solids and oxygen depletion. Wastewater would be released through six dispersal pipes into the strait.
In July, Northern Pulp is expected to submit an environmental assessment to the provincial government.