ABERCROMBIE POINT — Northern Pulp’s plans to lay a discharge pipe under Pictou Harbour have received a setback.
Kathy Cloutier, director of corporate communications for the mill’s owner Paper Excellence, confirmed the delay due to obstacles discovered on the harbour floor.
The company plans to build an on-site effluent treatment plant and extend a pipe with a diffuser attachment at its end where the harbour empties into the Northumberland Strait. She said the obstacles will affect how the diffuser at the end of the pipe works.
She said they were detected during an assessment conducted by Marine Geotech and Habitat in April, May and June. She said Northern Pulp and Paper Excellence believes more study is needed “in several key areas” and they anticipate filing the project’s application with the province later this summer.
“This is required for detailed engineering of the effluent line,” she said in a statement. “Data collection along the preliminary pipeline routing has identified ice scour, exact shipwreck(s) positioning and a collapsed pier, which has required modification to the pipeline routing. The sonar data collected requires us to consider a new, deeper outfall location to substantially mitigate the risk of ice damage to diffuser(s).”
An underwater mapping project several years ago revealed the remains of a small ship in Pictou Harbour.
Jon Griffin, engineering project supervisor and hydrographer in charge of the Canadian Hydrographic Service for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, was using the three-dimensional digital imaging used to map the harbour that was able to confirm the ship.
The sunken ship is almost in the middle of the harbour in about eight metres of water, but it is also near the end of East River’s main channel that has become narrower due to increased sediment. The vessel became the subject of the Phantom Ship fable.
Cloutier said the added testing is required to find the correct pipe route by using sonar, habitat assessment and core sampling.
“While a later filing may mean significant increase in costs related to winter construction, Northern Pulp/Paper Excellence’s commitment to the community and environment will not be compromised,” she said. “Ensuring an all-encompassing environmental assessment project registration document is submitted to Nova Scotia Environment is paramount for Northern Pulp and owner Paper Excellence.”