Councillors fed up with pulp mill breaking rules

Sueann Musick
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PICTOU – There are two sets of rules for business in this province depending on what size of company you operate, says a local county councillor.

Coun. Robert Parker, who is also a small business owner, said he would never be able to get away with the same infractions that Northern Pulp is doing with its emissions.

“In my business, if I was breaking any environmental laws, I would be closed down,” he said. “I wouldn’t be given any leeway.”

Northern Pulp has been subject to public criticism lately with people raising health concerns over the amount of emissions coming from the Abercrombie plant. The company has acknowledged the problems they’re having with the current filtration system, stating that the aged precipitator “has deteriorated more rapidly than initially expected.”

The existing precipitator was constructed when the mill was built in 1967 with modifications to it through the years as production increased. It has reached its limit for dust removal and this new precipitator is being built to replace it. The replacement is scheduled for installation by May 2015, but many people and local businesses are calling for the plant to close until it is fixed properly.

“I wouldn't want to run a little business in Pictou County and try to attract people overnight and then that stuff comes in and people get up and leave,” he said. “These businesses are important to the county and they are demanding a solution.”

He agreed with Coun. David Parker that county council must take some action and write a letter requesting that Northern Pulp do something sooner rather than later.

“To do nothing is not acceptable anymore,” he said. “It’s too important to other people’s lives not do anything.”

David Parker said the current environmental situation is not acceptable, but closing the mill is not a suitable alternative either.

“We suffered two heavy blows and if this plant closes it would be more severe than those two put together,” he said.

David suggested council write a letter to MP Peter MacKay, the county’s three MLAs, the province’s Environment Department as well as Northern Pulp asking it to do as much as it can to get it within the environmental standards and try to accelerate getting the new precipitator in place.

“When you are in the middle of a bad situation, you can’t throw up your hands and say I quit,” he said. “You have to deal with the situation you are dealt. It’s not black and white, but it’s shades of grey. Shutting down the mill will kill it, but doing nothing will kill some of us.”

Coun. Jim Turple said Northern Pulp should have been prepared before now to deal with replacing the precipitator instead of making the people and businesses pay for their mistake.

“I am fed up with these two sets of rules for Northern Pulp and others for small businesses like Robert Parker’s,” he said. “They waited until now to figure out the precipitator was wearing out? It’s time to smarten up and give us a clean place to raise our families.”

The motion was passed and the letter will be sent.

Geographic location: Northern Pulp, Pictou County

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  • Billy
    August 07, 2014 - 11:14

    I agree, the politicians are as much to blame at the federal and provincial level. The company is owned by an Asian company, so therefore one could believe that they could care less. Much like we do when our governments bomb other countries killing more children than combatants.

  • Rattlesnake Red
    August 07, 2014 - 10:40

    They're breaking the law and getting away with it - the law only applies to the poor . . .

  • Johnny smoke
    August 07, 2014 - 08:36

    Is councilor David Parker walking on both sides of the street? Why he is walking damm blab right down the middle. Imagine the best that he has to offer is to write to Minister MacKay regarding the situation at Abercrombie. Why did he not write to Charlie Parker when he was the environment minister or to then premier Dexter. Not that it would do any good as this is the way that politics is played here in Nova Scotia. This is one of the main reasons why the overload of local, provincial, and frederal politicians must be culled. It is not enough to have one politician point to the other for action on outstanding issues then smugly slink away thinking in their mind only that they did their jobs to the best of their abilities.. If that is the best that they can do I have to question why are they there in the first place?

  • Jane Thomson
    August 07, 2014 - 07:42

    They knew the precipitator wasn't working since AT LEAST 2006. They were just hoping DOE would continue to ignore it, which they did until a coalition of concerned citizens demanded action.

    • therepo
      August 07, 2014 - 10:21

      Wrong. Google :Check Your Facts Before You Re-Post on Social Media - "Think Before You Link"

  • RockMud
    August 06, 2014 - 20:39

    You councilors are heroes in my mind for speaking out about this. You have proven yourself to be the true leaders of Pictou County. Cheers gentlemen!

  • doug
    August 06, 2014 - 20:27

    I agree we nead something done NOW no,t later when more people get sick they should be fine for breaking the law if you did it you would fined