Countering the economic need for a replacement or modernizing pulp mill

Opinion

To the Editor:

Robin Wilbur of Elmsdale Lumber — a sawmill operation that also made pulp chips from otherwise dimensional log portions, continues to beat his drum telling the public to ignore the air and water pollution from a Kraft paper mill.

Nothing we’ve read so far indicates a “renewed” pulp mill would have reduced air emissions. These harmful emissions must not be allowed just because some other mills in current operation are allowed where they operate. Many have already been closed.

Next, excessive use of water within the mill requires a new, on site, facility to strip a lot of the used contaminated water of various harmful chemicals. Many of these contaminates are still in the water they want to dump onto a known fin fish and lobster rearing grounds on the edge of Northumberland Strait. This water also contains large quantity of small wood particles. Over time these and the chemicals will accumulate near the proposed outfall having a negative affect on all bottom dwellers. Tests done on the accumulated sludge at Boat Harbour attest to the chemical composition. Gradual accumulation is the key enemy of all living aqua life.

Making pulp chips requires the logs — both softwood and hardwood, be recently harvested with no regard to migratory bird nesting — birds that prefer to eat the bugs that harm our forests.

At the mill the logs have to be debarked before sawing. Next the mill cuts out about 50 per cent of the log for dimensional lumber (the most profitable product) and the rest is sent through a chipper that makes a specific chip needed by the Kraft mill.

Some waste from these operations is combined with sawdust and shavings and is sold for various products. Some is also used to fuel lumber drying furnaces at the mill site. Many mills also burn low value wood and waste to make electricity for own use and sold under contract to NSP. We are suggesting an alternative approach to managing and harvesting all forests including Crown forested lands. We advocate maximizing value of harvests.

Harvesting is mainly done after the leaves fall from the trees and the sap content has lowered. Harvesting ceases just before trees begin to wake up in early spring. Before migratory birds arrive and before spring mud season begins. Forwarding and road transport continues all winter. Tree planting and thinning continues after nesting season is largely finished. Clear cutting is drastically lowered. Tree marking and selection harvesting is the main method. Many studies show that allowing trees to mature — more than 60 years, results in a greater inventory of logs. Other studies show the value of these trees to absorb greater amounts of co2 and other air emissions. Still other studies show the value of forests to absorb rainfall and snow melt and to release that moisture slowly during the growing season.

Finally it has been shown that a mixed forest of uneven aged trees resist forest fires.

My next op-ed will detail what some of us are doing to turn more of each log into a higher value product(s) than making pulp chips.

Don Wilson

Brule Point, N.S.