No federal assessment of pulp mill’s pipe proposal

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PICTOU – Stakeholders have begun reacting to the federal decision not to assess Northern Pulp’s effluent treatment proposal.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson released his decision on Monday “not to designate the Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation project to a federal impact assessment.”

He was responding to the proposal to build a new effluent treatment facility beside the bleached kraft pulp mill at Abercrombie Point and discharge the treated effluent through a pipe into the Northumberland Strait.

It would replace the existing Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility, which is legislated to close by January 31, 2020.

Allan MacCarthy, who fishes in the strait with his fishing boat out of Caribou Harbour, said he is disappointed but not surprised with Wilkinson’s decision.

“Nothing seems to surprise us with this, but it is disappointing,” he said.

MacCarthy questioned the timing of Wilkinson’s decision, years after local stakeholders voiced concern over a possible effluent pipe option, but the day before Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson announced on Monday that he would render this (Tuesday) morning his decision whether or not to approved the pipe project.

Wilkinson said in his statement that designating the project is “unwarranted” because of  “the comprehensive environmental assessment and regulatory review processes that currently apply to the project and related consultations with Indigenous peoples” that he said provide a framework to address their concerns and those of the general public.

He noted the advice several federal departments provided to help the province evaluate the environment assessment and the federal provisions industries like Northern Pulp must comply with regarding effluent.

Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan said the federal decision does not surprise him, given the requirements set out for oversight by several federal departments.

“That’s what we asked for,” he said.