To the Editor:
In recent months, there has been much discussion in the media and other venues regarding Northern Pulp. Harvesting operations (specifically in Wentworth), government loans, recovery boiler precipitator and power boiler emissions.
There is another side of Northern Pulp; several actually. One of dedicated, hard-working employees who take pride in their accomplishments whether it is in the area of production, maintenance, engineering, administrative, business and forestry science. The team at Northern Pulp consists of over 300 people who, like their friends and neighbours, juggle work commitments while raising families, volunteering and contributing to their community in a meaningful way.
With respect to forestry, to date Northern Pulp has worked with government to set aside over 60,000 hectares of high conservation lands to be put into permanent protection, including over 1,450 hectares behind the Ski Wentworth Mountain. As a landowner, could Northern Pulp have done things differently in the case of the Wentworth harvest? Yes, absolutely. As a corporate citizen and community member — protecting the view scape from the highway would be Northern Pulp’s “do-over” if one could be had. Harvesting operations on company-owned land should continue just as it will on hundreds of private woodlots throughout the province. That being said, in areas of special circumstance we can learn from this and look to co-exist more collaboratively as neighbours.
There is a misperception that taxpayers of Nova Scotia have paid for the recovery boiler precipitator, a project cost totaling $35 million. In fact, Northern Pulp received a $2.5 million forgivable loan over five years based on employment conditions as well as a $9.5 million repayable loan with interest. Since its commissioning in 2015, emissions from this major mill stack have dropped by over 95 per cent, significantly reducing Northern Pulp’s environmental footprint.
Recent emission testing showed Northern Pulp’s power boiler has, for the third time out of the last ten, exceeded its emission regulatory limit. This was not anticipated in light of the extensive work carried out in recent years. Make no mistake, everyone at Northern Pulp is leaving no stone unturned to promptly bring the power boiler back into compliance. Having said that, it is important to note that the power boiler is a smaller fraction of mill emissions as the stack volume is significantly smaller (approximately one-third). Equally important is to recognize that the power boiler is akin to a wood stove in that it burns biomass and sawmill residuals.
Northern Pulp owns 171,000 hectares of land obtained via a $75 million loan from the government of Nova Scotia. This purchase was important as it ensures the land will remain accessible to Nova Scotian’s and operations in the province allowing companies such as ours to take a Nova Scotia resource, create a Nova Scotia product and export it. When the current owner of Northern Pulp — Paper Excellence — purchased the mill and its operations in 2011, the company assumed the land and other government loan responsibilities. A good corporate citizen honoring commitments to the province, Paper Excellence has since paid over $46 million to the Government of Nova Scotia, including $29.7 million in interest. This in addition to over $200 million in investment made to mill infrastructure.
These are some of the very important other sides of Northern Pulp that must also be recognized when speaking about this important natural resource sector contributor. While the ownership of Northern Pulp may be described as “foreign-owned”, one must recognize that the $315 million generated annually by Northern Pulp stays within the province of Nova Scotia, benefitting each and every one of us on a daily basis.
Director of Corporate Communications
Paper Excellence Canada