PLFN chief “frustrated” with mill’s winterization process

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PICTOU LANDING FIRST NATION — Chief Andrea Paul says that Pictou Landing First Nation has not agreed to allow Northern Pulp to keep using the Boat Harbour treatment facility after January 31, 2020 and she is not sure what is happening with Northern Pulp’s plans to winterize the mill.

Last week, Northern Pulp announced it would put the mill into hibernation so that it could be restarted if it receives environmental approval for a new effluent treatment facility to replace the one at Boat Harbour. On January 9, Premier Stephen McNeil told the media that Northern Pulp would be winterizing the mill but no details were provided.

“Chief and Council spoke with a representative of the Province last Thursday and were advised that Northern Pulp had asked to operate the power boiler until the end of April to provide heat to the mill so pipes would not freeze while the mill is being winterized,” said Paul. She said the Province expected a plan from Northern Pulp the following week with details of the winterizing process.

“The representative told us that running the power boiler will mean discharging some water into Boat Harbour but no pulp will be produced,” said Paul. “We were not consulted about it.”

She noted, “Of course, the community is disappointed. We were expecting a complete shutdown of the Boat Harbour treatment facility. Northern Pulp could have started draining the pipes weeks ago in order to complete the work before January 31 and avoid the need to heat the mill after that.”

PLFN was advised that the Province wanted to avoid further contamination resulting from burst pipes in the spring so agreed to allow Northern Pulp to keep the heat on so pipes wouldn’t freeze, even if this meant continuing to discharge some wastewater into Boat Harbour.

Paul said she expected to see Northern Pulp’s winterization plan this week but has yet to see any details. “I’m very frustrated. The community is planning a ceremony on January 31, 2020 to mark the start of the remediation of Boat Harbour and we are not sure what is happening.”