Closed loop waste option not on at Northern Pulp

ABERCROMBIE POINT – A closed loop method of treating effluent is not an option at Northern Pulp, Kathy Cloutier says.

The communications director for Paper Excellence and the Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation said its breached kraft type of pulp production means a closed loop system is not suitable at the local mill. She said the technical description by a Montreal-based engineer Guy Martin as to why a closed loop system is not an option “is entirely accurate.”

Martin works with KSH Solutions that has offices in Montreal, Toronto and Sao Paulo, Brazil. He said closed loop systems are not compatible with bleach kraft operations like Northern Pulp.

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“It has been tried but it’s never been done fully,” he said, while referring to close loop testing that goes back to the 1990s. “The technology was promising but we’re still nowhere near (achieving it).”

A spokesperson for the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association is disputing claims that a closed loop system is not feasible at Northern Pulp.

Michelle Davey says times have changed, environmental standards have risen and people are more aware of chemicals in the pulping and effluent treatment processes and the harm they pose.

“The question still remains – why did the consultants hired by the province and Northern Pulp not design a zero effluent solution?” Davey said.

She said she is among those who do not want chemicals discharged into local waterways, which is why she said a closed loop option is essential.

“A closed-loop facility is still an option for Pictou County,” she said. “It’s what the community has been asking for over the past 50 years – non-effluent, environmentally friendly, health conscious, sustainable pulp and paper mill. There is no other option”.

Cloutier referred to a mill in California that she said used a different bleach pulping process and closed nearly a decade ago because its closed loop system failed.

She also addressed calls to retrofit Northern Pulp with a closed loop system like the one at a Paper Excellence pulp mill in Saskatchewan called Meadow Lake that uses a mechanical pulping process. She said fibres are mechanically separated “with high electricity costs” from the wood chips, “rather than chemically separated (cooking) as is the case for Northern Pulp.”

She said the Meadow Lake plant does not produce the premium pulp processed at Northern Pulp.

Cloutier revealed that Northern Pulp will be ready to host public information sessions to outline the design and environmental assessment phase for the new treatment facility that proposes an outflow pipe to send the end product into the Northumberland Strait.

Those sessions are scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. on December 5 at Glasgow Square and December 6 at the Abercrombie Fire Hall.

“All those types of questions will be answered regarding the decisions on design and the science behind the decisions,” she said. “Ultimately there must be an effluent treatment facility which includes an outfall discharge for the type of process Northern Pulp operates. Effluent of today is not the same as decades ago – significant improvements have been made over the years. Treated effluent has been discharged into the Northumberland Strait for 50 years; it is important to recognize that current effluent discharge into the region has not impacted fishing activities, nor will it in the future.”

KSH Solutions produced results from a study in 2015 that show the changing percentages of sludge disposal from pulp mills with wastewater treatment systems. They include incineration, land-filling, land-spreading and composting.

Figures during the period from 1998 to 2012 show the incineration option has dropped from half the volume to about a quarter, while the landfill option has grown.

 

 

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Steve Goodwin was born in Amherst, N.S. and has been a journalist for more than 40 years. He has been a resident of Pictou County for nearly 40 years.