MLA MacFarlane, Gunning working with Northern Pulp for better communication

John Brannen
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PICTOU – Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane has raised concerns about emissions and compliance from Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation in questions directed to Minister of Environment Randy Delorey. 

Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane has received answers to her questions regarding Northern Pulp’s compliance and emissions. She’s working with Matt Gunning of the Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook Group and Don Breen, general manager at Northern Pulp, to find common ground and keep the mill open while observing safe environmental practices. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

He came back on Dec. 11 with a document tabled in the legislature that gave specifics on compliance to address MacFarlane’s questions.

“The latest directive was issued on Nov. 4th and we just received the first test results for Total Reduced Sulfur (TRS),” the document read. “The testing for total reduced sulfur shows that's the mill was compliant 99.2 per cent of the time in November.”

It also noted that the five hours of non-compliance was due to a necessary steam purge on some of the equipment.

Regarding fine particulate matter (PM) however, the minister said test results for November were not yet in.

“We are working on posting test results publicly for both TRS and PM 2.5 and I'll keep you up-to-date on this front as well.”

MacFarlane said she appreciated his responses but was left unsatisfied by the answers.

“I am pleased he got back to me, however, not having all the info regarding particulate matter is disappointing.”

She is committed to pressing for more answers in a timely manner and is confident the minister will provide the answers she’s looking for.

“We’ll get the answers from him because I’ll hold him accountable,” said MacFarlane. “Being a taxpayer in Pictou, this is not about shutting the mill down. This is about informing the constituents of what’s going on and that we’ll protect the jobs at Northern Pulp but not at the expense of risking our health.”

In October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated particulate matter, a major component of outdoor air pollution, as carcinogenic to humans.

While Don Breen, general manager at Northern Pulp, said he’s been working with the government and other stake holders, the government needs to act first with regulations.

“In regards to particulate matter, we’re doing our best. But as far as stricter regulations, we will wait to see what government does,” said Breen. “Then, we’d make the necessary changes.”

Matt Gunning of the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook Group said that getting answers to questions in the legislature is good news.

“At this point it is encouraging, but we’re nowhere near finished,” he said. The more we get into this, the more we realize the public has to keep the pressure on.”

While Gunning said that he and members of the group have given Nova Scotia Environment time to get caught up on this file, the honeymoon period will soon be over.

“They don’t seem to be hiding the issue, which is good. We’ve given them a chance to get up to date before we start looking for more substance.”

Several group members have met with Northern Pulp staff along with Pictou County’s three MLAs. A tour of the mill’s facilities was provided along with answers to any questions Gunning and the MLAs had.

Gunning said the group would continue to keep pressure on provincial and federal environment standards and emphasized they’re not trying to get the mill out of the area.

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

 

Organizations: International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook Group

Geographic location: Pictou County

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    December 27, 2013 - 11:25

    Wow a group of people who know next to nothing about what is going on, jumping to conclusions and making uneducated guesses as to what they think is happening. This Facebook group is a joke, their is only a handful of contributors and most of them have no clue.

  • Krista
    December 24, 2013 - 13:07

    Whatever you do, don't smoke on the property! That'll kill anyone around you in seconds. But things like the mill and sucking in vehicle exhaust while dining on an outdoor patios are harmless. As Ricky would say, "It's not rocket appliances people"