PICTOU LANDING –The chief of Pictou Landing First Nation says she agrees with Environment Minister Margaret Miller’s decision on the environmental assessment of Northern Pulp’s waste water proposal.
Andrea Paul was responding to Miller’s request announced last Friday seeking a focus report with more information on the proposed new treatment facility and the impacts on matters that include marine life, human impact and air quality impact from the pipe that would discharge treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait.
“We have finally been heard,” Paul said. “Our Community, our fishers, our County, we have been heard. The amount of responses, the submissions sent in support was a very clear indication of how concerned the public is about this. The health of our people, environment, the health of our fisheries… we hold all of these very close to our hearts.”
Miller issued a response to the pulp mill’s pipe application around mid-day on Friday requesting more information in a number of areas.
“We know that there were data gaps,” Paul said. “The Northumberland straight is vital to Pictou Landing First Nation, vital to Pictou County, vital to Nova Scotia and vital to the Maritimes and we must protect it.”
Northumberland Fishermen’s Association president Ronald Heighton supported Miller’s call for more information.
“There are too many unanswered questions,” he said. “She did the right thing asking for more information.”
He repeated the oft-spoken claim that the mill could convert to a pulping process that would use less water and recycle what it uses on site.
“That mill does not have to close if it does the right thing,” he said. “The fishermen never wanted to close the mill.”
Meanwhile, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said he has reviewed Miller’s response and cited provincial and federal departments and agencies that sought more information about the proposal’s impact on the strait’s ecosystem. He noted the amount of federal input that went into Miller’s decision.
“From my perspective, there is further information required,” he said, regarding the pipe proposal. “The advice of the federal government was very well heeded. There was a series of federal tests that had to be met that are not in the document, such as fresh waterways and fish habitat. Without an understanding of the full impact of the proposal, there won’t be approval.”
Friends of the Northumberland Strait president Jill Murray-Scanlan was not immediately available for comment.