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Boat Harbour cleanup expected to start next year

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Cleanup of Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility aeration stabilization basins is expected to start next year.

Nova Scotia Lands Inc. will remove all sludge material and a press release from them indicates a single project plan to dredge and dispose of the sludge will ensure the job is completed in a timely way, and provide clarity and closure to Pictou Landing First Nation and residents of Pictou County.

The cleanup will begin once the federal environmental assessment process is complete and approved. The approval is expected in 2021, with the cleanup to start in 2022.

Northern Pulp is responsible for removing the top layer of sludge, down to the level of a 1997 baseline survey. That must be removed before the cleanup can begin.

The company does not have an approved decommissioning plan to date, which means there is a risk that decommissioning activities would overlap with the remediation project. That could delay the cleanup because it is not possible for both parties to dredge on the same site at the same time.

“We cannot continue to wait. Taking one management approach makes good sense to ensure it’s managed in a responsible way and timelines stay on track,” said Lloyd Hines, minister responsible for Nova Scotia Lands. “Our ultimate goal is to return Boat Harbour, or A’se’k, to its original state as a tidal estuary. It’s a commitment to the people of Pictou Landing First Nation and Pictou County and we intend to keep it.”

The additional sludge removal is expected to cost $19 million. Government is not accepting any legal liability associated with the additional work.

The Nova Scotia Lands project team will continue to work closely with the Pictou Landing First Nation, local residents, federal and provincial regulators, technical advisors and scientists to effectively address the needs of the site.

Northern Pulp was ordered by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop a decommissioning plan with details regarding the removal and disposal of all solid waste located within the open ditches, settling basins and aeration basins by no later than August 1, 2020.  The company was provided an extension to Feb. 28, 2021, but has not yet submitted a complete plan, according to the press release.

The federal government has committed $100 million toward the overall remediation project