Alternatives to pulp mill jobs

Opinion

To the Editor:

August 2, 2018: It’s time to speak out about work that has been ongoing most of this year. We that do not wish to see an effluent pipeline spewing partially treated pulp mill process waste water mixed with human washroom sewage, laid across the floor of Pictou Harbour and out into Lobster grounds are adamant that all marine life not be harmed.

The engineer’s report indicates that summer season waste will exit the pipe at about 37 degrees C . Winter season waste will be about 23 C. Cold water lobster can’t live in water this warm. Lobster larvae are present in the upper levels of sea water during July and August every year. Numerous studies confirm lobster larvae can’t survive 20 C. We have just gone thru a month in which water temperatures in the shallow waters off Caribou are borderline for larvae survival. If one were to spew 37 C waste water into the present natural temperature water there would not be any lobster larvae survival. This is the science that Northern Pulp and our Liberal Government have not yet accepted.

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Science tells us there cannot be an effluent pipeline from the Pulp Mill. N.P. and Unifor keep saying there can’t be a mill unless a waste pipeline is built, thus if they won’t reconstruct the mill for a closed loop system for waste water we must then prepare for the closure of the mill. Months ago we began looking at the alternative . Why wait until closure to begin making plans for the employment of the mill workers. Surprisingly there are lots of jobs available for all that want to work. Retraining is available at NSCC. There are provincial and federal government programs available to assist.

Government has recently announced major highway rebuilding on hwy 104 east of New Glasgow. They say this will provide 3,000 jobs. We think that is an impossible brag. Maybe half of that over the next three to four years. Cleaning up Boat Harbour and the old mill site will provide hundreds more jobs for several years.

Enercon of New Glasgow has been increasing workers over the past five or more years as wind turbine installations increase. These are very good paying jobs. Installing Solar PV and water heating panel jobs are increasing all over N.S.

Unifor would have us believe that forestry jobs would shrink if the pulp mills ceased production. The exact opposite is what would take place. The remaining two mills insist on clear cutting forest lots because this can be done using big expensive machines. NSDNR apparently agree. Unifor and N.P. quote that more than 11,000 jobs are at risk. Stats Canada quotes a significantly fewer jobs are in N.S.

When the mills are closed the clear cutting will be much less and will be replaced by sustainable selection cutting. This requires more workers — not fewer. Higher value trees are selected for sawmills to make a higher value product — sawn lumber — not chips . Sawn lumber is presently at a very high price and the export market is strong. More higher value forest products will pay for the increase of workers. Government can stop selling small trees for biomass used for pulp making and mill electric power generation.

If we add up what government has given the mills over the past 10 years we think there is no net benefit to GDP. Unifor and N.P. fail to mention the millions government/tax payers have spent or given to the mills. Bringing natural gas to New Glasgow was tax-payer assisted. Additions to the pulp mill at Abercrombie have been assisted by government loans or assistance grants. This has all been written about in the Joan Baxter book, “The Mill” and in various newspapers and government web sites.

Unifor claims that various change proposals are “just not possible.” That is not true as other mills have changed over the past 20 years. To see change, the Unifor script writer should take a trip to other pulp mills within Canada including the Irving pulp mill at St. John, N.B. In fact, Paper Excellence operates the Meadow Lake pulp mill in Saskatchewan with a closed loop waste water system. Processes in the mill have to be changed to accommodate a closed loop system. Apparently Paper Excellence doesn’t want to make the necessary changes. That is their right to refuse change investment. But it isn’t their right to wipe out a lobster fishery that has more value to GDP than does its pulp sales to China. Neither is it the right of the Liberal Governments to condone the wiping out of the fishery and a reduction of tourism or sawmill jobs.

Unifor will lose out on payroll union dues. That is a conflict of interest that taints the article they ran in the August 2 Advocate. We will continue to work on the alternative jobs for Pictou County and in forestry all over Nova Scotia. Prepare now — not after the mill closes. Change equals jobs.

Don Wilson

Brule Point