PICTOU – When Matt Gunning, Bobbi Morrison and Paul Gregory sat down with representatives from the Department of Environment with a list of questions on Aug. 27, Gunning promised the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook page that the responses would be posted there first.
Over 60 questions were taken from the page regarding compliance and policies for Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation. On Sept. 30, he posted the answers.
“So far so good,” said Gunning. “We haven’t had a chance to have the group go over the answers in detail yet, but they’ve been posted.”
He said with over 3,000 members, each with differing and varied opinions, it’s a balancing act.
Each question submitted to the department received a written answer. The nine-page document was hand delivered by Marc Theriault of Nova Scotia Environment.
Don Breen of Northern Pulp has looked over the answers provided by the department and said they look good.
“There’s not much more that we can add to their answers,” said Breen. “I think the next step is meeting with the group since it’s important we get together.”
According to Breen, scheduling conflicts have prevented a meeting between Northern Pulp and the Facebook group. The group also wanted to meet with all the party leaders before speaking with Northern Pulp, a feat that was accomplished on Oct 1. Gunning met with Premier Darrell Dexter to discuss their concerns.
“It went pretty quick and we explained the group’s position,” said Gunning. “We wanted him to know that it is a concern that a great deal of money was given to the mill and that a promise to close Boat Harbour by the previous government hasn’t been honoured.”
Gunning said that one valuable answer provided by the department is the contact information for the access and privacy manager.
“We should have that info with paying fees. Whoever is in power after Oct. 8 should be offering us that information,” he said. “If they’re working with the community, they should be offering this to us and we should not be forced into applying and spending money.”
Gunning noted that once the election is over, the group would be staying active and applying pressure to local MLAs and the premier.
The Facebook page, through a benefactor, bought full-page ads in local newspapers raising awareness of the environmental situation at the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility.
“That’s the picture of Boat Harbour that people don’t get to see,” said Gunning. “We didn’t doctor the photo. It’s the photo people don’t get to see in press releases.”
Gunning and the group are still liaising with Erin Brockovich and her team, and he noted that they’ve shown an interest in Pictou County.
“We don’t want to publicly announce when they’ll be on the ground so her team can look at the county and see it for what it is,” said Gunning. “Who’s to say they haven’t been here already?”