Can’t fix problems by making bigger ones

Opinion

To the Editor:

As an 18 year old Pictou County citizen I worry about the future of our world, specifically the future of our county. For those who aren’t informed, here in Pictou County we have a pulp mill. The pulp mill has been around for 51 years. They are the leading manufacturer in bleached kraft pulp in the last 51 years, though it has caused a lot of trouble with our environment.

For some, it might just seem like the problems just started in the last few years but they have been going on since the day that mill has opened. The trouble is the environmental effects weren’t as bad back than as it is now. After time, it became worse and worse. Look at Boat Harbour for example; back when the mill first opened and Boat Harbour first came to be, it wasn’t that bad and they thought it was the best approach environmentally but it wasn’t. It hurt wildlife and resources. Not to mention it has caused illnesses in humans.

Once they realized that it wasn’t a good idea they tried to clean it up but it was too late. After all, once damage is done and things are gone they will never go back to the exact same way they were before. Now Pictou Landing grieves the loss of its waterways, wildlife and resources. Here we are 51 years later though wanting to do it all again but in a different spot. I don’t know what politician or person of power got the idea in their head to put an effluent pipe in our strait but they need to lose the idea because it’s a terrible idea. A pipe would put our marine life on the line. Not only that it would put our economy on the line.

The pulp industry at Northern Pulp brings in roughly $200 million a year for Nova Scotians. It employees roughly 300 people. The fishing industry, on the other hand, brings in roughly $1 billion a year for Nova Scotians. It employees over 7,800 people. Would we rather put $200 million and 300 jobs on the line or $1 billion and 7,800 jobs on the line? Think about that for a second. Northern Pulp makes just 20 per cent of what the fishing industry makes per year and they employ only three per cent of the amount of people that the fishing industry employs. Yet the government thinks it’s okay to put the fishing industry on the line just to save Northern Pulp.

The big shots can lie all they want and say it won’t have any effects on the strait but it will. Even though the effluent that will run through the pipe is treated, it will contain dioxins and furans. An excess of dioxins or furans in marine life causes abnormalities and could also cause death. In turn, if a human digests fish containing excess dioxins or furans it can cause cancer, skin problems, liver problems, developmental/reproductive problems, and even damage the immune system. The effluent also contains chromium; fish absorb this heavy metal and then the humans eat the fish and the chromium can cause kidney, liver, nerve and circulatory damage. Not to mention that the effluent is fresh water and in small amounts, it’s fine to put fresh water in a salt water area but each year we will be pouring 32 billion litres of fresh water into the strait every year which is, again, a threat to marine life.

Above all else though, water travels so not only will the effluent affect our strait but it will affect other waterways as well. At the end of the day, the pipe is not just putting marine life on the line. It’s putting the fishing industry, the tourist industry, the economy, and potentially human lives on the line. We can’t fix problems by making even bigger problems. A pipe is not the answer to this problem and the idea of it needs to come off the table indefinitely. We need to compromise and come up with something that will make the majority happy and solve at least part of the problem.

It’s time that our people get a say in what happens in our hometowns. We need to change things and we need to do it before it’s way too late. As for Stephen McNeil, just as much as he wants the fishermen to stop protesting and let surveyors do their job because that is their livelihood, the fishermen want their voices to be heard and the pipe proposal to be dropped because it’s their livelihoods that are on the line.

Kennedy Tupper

Little Harbour