Solution to reduction of waste effluent and future jobs

Opinion

To the Editor:

Once again, the Northern Pulp Kraft paper mill is in the news for all the wrong reasons. First, another leaking pipe along the route to Boat Harbour. Clearly this very old pipe is becoming too thin to contain the pressure and very thin spots along its length are blowing out. Its end is near.

Paper Excellence, the Pulp Mill owner, is refusing to consider changes to the internal mill process that would allow the ensuing liquid waste stream to be cleaned of contaminant chemicals and human waste.

If cleaned up as is done in the Meadow Lake, Sask., pulp mill — also owned by Paper Excellence, most of the water in the waste stream could be reused within the plant. The remaining waste could then be de-watered and landfilled in a containment cell on site. The current new plan seems to be a partial cleaning of waste from the daily mill effluent stream and dump the rest into Northumberland Strait with no care about killing the marine environment. This is not acceptable to the fishing industry which has a greater value to the local economy.

Air contamination comes from all of the several pipes reaching up into the air over the mill buildings. These are various chemicals and PM 2.5 particles — all of which are harmful to every person, animal or bird breathing them in over a long period of time. Children are particularly harmed as well as all that may have an existing lung problem.

It is this contamination of the downstream air that is most noticeable. This has resulted in a steady reduction in the town’s population and property values despite the scenic views and available highways to the rest of the province.

Fortunately there is a solution if the mill finally rebuilds as noted above or if the pulp mill closes. The pulp mill consumes some logs — both hardwood and conifers, that can be made into a higher value product. They buy small diameter conifer wood at very low biomass price and send this “softwood” studwood over to a related sawmill at Scotsburn where it is sawn into building studs then dried on site using heat from burners that burn the slabwood and other saw mill waste. Bark, sawdust and planer shavings can be sold to pellet mills or various other uses . If the pulp mill was closed this wood supply can be used by current sawmills that are now short of logs and studwood resulting a higher value product and increased employment around N.S.

The hardwood saw mill at Westville is today getting only two-fifths of the hardwood logs it needs to maintain a five day saw week. The various large old biomass burners consume the rest. PHP/NSP in Port Hawkesbury, another NSP plant on the South Shore, are two.

Conifer sawmills lament where they can sell sawdust, slab wood and planer shavings if the pulp mill were to close. The solution is to build European design very efficient biomass co-generation plants near and for Towns like Pictou, New Glasgow, Truro, Tatamagouche, Pugwash, etc. The real waste biomass burned in these plants do not give off the air emissions that the existing old burners do. Biomass is stored in silos out of the weather and stays dry until fed to a modern efficient plant. The Taylor Lumber sawmill is an example of modern co-generation.

Excess, if any, can be made into fuel pucks or pellets — easily sold local or exported to the UK and EU.

All this results in continued employment by wood industry workers around the province. It also raises the price paid for logs and studwood when used for a higher value product line.

There may never be a better time for pulp mill employees to find good employment due to the Michelin Tire Plant expansion. Manufacturing higher value wood products will result in more employment. A replacement of the old Scotsburn mill will maintain, at least, employment locally. The hardwood sawmill can finally expand. The future looks exciting for all.

Don Wilson

Brule Point

Member of HFC in Nova Scotia and a former third-generation woods owner/harvester