Stakeholders voice opposition to Strait pipe pulp mill option

Community Featured

PICTOU — Nearly 60 people gathered at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum on Sunday to hear concerns over Northern Pulp’s plan to extend an outflow pipe into the Northumberland Strait.

Many of those who attended raised strong disapproval to the plan proposed to replace the treatment system at Boat Harbour with an on-site treatment facility whose effluent would be discharged after treatment through a pipe and multiple-head diffuser into the strait.

Krista Fulton and Jill Graham-Scanlan were co-hosts of the presentation shared with the audience.

Those attending included Lenore Zahn, MLA for Bible Hill and the provincial New Democratic Party’s environment critic, Dave Gunning from the Clean the Mill group and Ron Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association.

Gunning took issue with the mill’s claims that the effluent going into the strait will be sufficiently treated and with the notion that treated effluent has been flowing into the strait for the past 50 years after treatment in Boat Harbour.

He said the new option will not be treated as long to allow toxins and other contaminants to get trapped or settle before the end product is released. He also questioned what modelling has been done to support the new system’s effectiveness.

The presentation included what was termed a general lack of monitoring by the province and pulp mill, and in particular with regard to the rupture of the pipe between the mill and Boat Harbour that caused the massive effluent leak in the East River in 2014. That led to the province promising Pictou Landing First Nation to close Boat Harbour by 2020 and consider the pulp mill’s replacement option for treating the effluent.

Heighton emphasized that his group will only accept a more comprehensive Class II environmental assessment that would include federal environment and fisheries input, not the faster Class I assessment the province has imposed.

He also said his group opposes submitting the pulp mill’s proposal to the Class II option.

“We do not accept a Class II assessment on the present proposal” he said. “We’re not backing off.”

Graham-Scanlan said the 30-day community response time the province is offering is not enough.

“Thirty days will go by very quickly,” she said. “It’s a tight time for us to respond.”

Zahn urged people to be vigilant and consult their elected representatives to voice their disapproval for the effluent plan.

“If we could get federal input it would help a lot,” she said.

When told the federal government is waiting for the pulp mill to formally table its plan she said: “That’s a cop out.”

Those attending the event on Sunday listen to presenters regarding Northern Pulp’s plans to extend a pipe into the Northumberland Strait from a new holding facility for the pulp mill’s effluent.  (Goodwin photo)

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