Citizens continue to protest pulp mill emissions

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Facebook group holds third protest in as many months

NEW GLASGOW – New day, new location, but the same message – clean up the pulp mill.

People lined the sidewalk on East River Road near the Pictou County Health Authority on Sunday afternoon as part of a protest by the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill group. Throughout the protest they could be heard shouting, “What do we want? – Clean air. When do we want it? – Now.” 

Starting in June residents of Pictou County started protesting, requesting not only the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility be cleaned up, but also the air emissions. Sunday the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill group, not to be confused with the “Clean Pictou Air” group of businesses, held their third protest in three months. Their numbers have grown from a handful at their initial gathering outside of Peter MacKay’s constituency office on June 22 to over 80 people on Sunday on East River Road near the Pictou County Health Authority.

“It’s a good turnout, but the thing today is there’s different faces then there was last time, which is real good because not everybody can make it all the time,” said Dave Cullen, a member of the Facebook group that has organized the protests.

Prior to their initial protest, the current owner of the mill, Northern Pulp, announced that they will have a new precipitator installed in the spring of 2015 to make their emissions cleaner. This was also prior to an effluent leak, which caused the mill to shut down.

On top of the precipitator, next year is expected to be significant in the process of cleaning up Boat Harbour as the government committed to enacting into law timelines on stopping the flow of effluent into the current treatment facility and the site’s remediation by June 30, 2015.

With that just under a year away Northern Pulp stated just over a week ago that they will continue to work on short-term solutions in the interim. During their maintenance shutdown in mid-September they will install a new set of 1,200 Modo scrubber spray nozzles, which will aid in removing particulate matter.

Currently the mill is not within the provincial regulatory threshold for particular matter (375 milligrams). They have seen an improvement in recent years, dropping from 670 milligrams in fall 2013 to around 500 milligrams during July tests by a third-party.

“The mill has said that it’s not going to be addressed change – they may put some scrubbers on and whatnot, but they need the precipitator and that’s supposedly what’s going to reduce all the particulate matter,” said Cullen. “We want to force them to do it. Over the years people have just forgot about it and allowed this mill to get where it is today. We don’t want people to forget about it and want to make sure our government enforces the law and holds all corporations to the same standards that they’d hold us.”

Organizations: Pictou County Health Authority

Geographic location: Pictou County, East River Road, Boat Harbour

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Recent comments

  • RockofMud
    August 18, 2014 - 17:21

    I keep seeing people stating that is the mill was to close down Pictou County would cease to exist, is that true? Does Pictou County solely exist to support a pulp and paper mill? I always thought PC existed because the displaced Highland Scott's came here to carve out a life and a home lost at the hands of foreign invaders? Pictou in particular is not a mill town but he Birth Place of New Scotland. Unfortunately, as a result of the mills reckless operation and our provinces indifference towards this it may also be the Deathbed of New Scotland, I guess you could say the shuttered businesses and cancer rates support that notion. Until we stand up for ourselves and make our new homeland in our own desired image we are still nothing but a bunch of displaced Scott's trampled on by foreign powers. Please set me up with a bag a mushrooms and a goblet of Ergot, I need to unleash the warrior inside me!

  • Aaron
    August 18, 2014 - 14:11

    Is the situation ok? no, of course not. Has it been the same for decades? Of course. Will it be cleaned up to what people "demand"? Of course not. Will the company eventually just say "screw you" and pack up and move to somewhere else? Count on it. Will over 4000 jobs directly and indirectly related to this mill in Pictou County alone be lost? 100% of them will be out of work. Then what Pictou County? If anybody is famous for shooting themselves in the foot, it's Pictou County and Nova Scotia.

  • PCguy
    August 18, 2014 - 13:35

    I have yet to hear any evidence from an Expert on how bad the mill is on everything. All these people who are protesting do NOT know what they are talking about, espically when the tests on the mill just started today. If there was conclusive evidence out there then where is it, cause I haven't heard it nor seen it!!! And what really gets me is how gullable people are to beleive complete and utter BS, until I see hard proof on this, I would like my friends and family employed by Norhtern Pulp, i do not want to see them with many others out of work. And not to mention all the tax dollars spend by the employees and all the business who live on those jobs. If this place closes this county is in a HUGE amount of trouble!!!

  • Looking Glass
    August 18, 2014 - 08:09

    So what's the purpose of these demonstrations on the East River Road in New Glasgow. Why not in Pictou where the smell and haze is most effected, or in Stellarton in front of the Sobey's headquarters. I think all this is a big photo op for a group of people who want attention so they can show their signs and jump up and down and wave and yell at passer byes. Stop the silliness, protest at the MLA's offices, the MP,s office, corporate headquarters of the company's in PC who are polluting our air like NS Power, and more. All your doing is making PC the laughing stock of NS. Hey, I even got a better idea go down to the road leading to the mill and pass out the info pamphlets about all the correct info on air quality and see what reaction you get.

    • Shane MacMillan
      August 18, 2014 - 15:32

      The location of this protest was within 100 meters of the Pictou County Health Authority, as well as on one of the busiest roads in Pictou County. Seems like a legit place to me. And what does Sobeys head office have to do with Northern Pulp?

  • Looking for jobs
    August 18, 2014 - 08:06

    My heart goes out to the people working at the mill not knowing what is going to happen to them if/when the mill shuts down. This might not be the idea behind the protests but I can see it happening. No other industry will ever want to come here knowing that all the people do is complain. There is enough things closing with Michelin and convergys and now people are trying to have more places shut down. These people protesting will be the same ones protesting that there isn't enough jobs in Pictou County.

  • Get a Grip
    August 18, 2014 - 07:55

    Just wandering if any of these protesters that are complaining about poor air quality and problems breathing are smokers? If so then stop your complaining about your breathing problems...anyone who smokes puts out second hand smoke for others to breath, most of them throw their butts on the ground which then gets those chemicals into our water...How did they get to the picket line? they drove in their cars, which was emitting pollution...Stop your complaining people there is a plan in place to clean up the mill but it takes time!!!

  • Get a Grip
    August 18, 2014 - 07:54

    Just wandering if any of these protesters that are complaining about poor air quality and problems breathing are smokers? If so then stop your complaining about your breathing problems...anyone who smokes puts out second hand smoke for others to breath, most of them throw their butts on the ground which then gets those chemicals into our water...How did they get to the picket line? they drove in their cars, which was emitting pollution...Stop your complaining people there is a plan in place to clean up the mill but it takes time!!!

  • clean it all
    August 17, 2014 - 19:13

    I am hoping that all the press that is going to the cleaning up of the Pulp mill brings attention to the Power Plant and the Strip Mine. We have particulate matter swirling around our heads,and in all our lungs. If cleaning is coming than clean it all up, and make Pictou County a proud place for people to live and call there home. We all need help in Pictou County. I think the Environment and its workers and staff have a job cut out for them.

    • Keep it Tidy
      August 18, 2014 - 19:18

      Please tell me how to make Pictou County a proud place for people to live when you want to kill all the industry? Sorry we can't all be retired! Please put forth your plan that saves the hundreds of jobs and unemployment rates that would be the result of shutting all these places down, I think we all need to hear it. I know where a young individual can go to find employment, ALBERTA. Then who is left to be "PROUD" of Pictou County? I know I'm not sticking around this retirement community.

  • nothing to gain
    August 17, 2014 - 19:06

    So a lot of people are blaming the pulp mill for sickness. Have any of you done research on other pulp mills for a status on whether a sickness epidemic is caused from emisions? protesting to shut down the mill will make Pictou County cease to exist. Yes clean it up and use the new brushes that they already have. Who and where do you think employment will come from if it shuts down indefinitely. Sobeys?? Look at what is already being lost with part of Michelin shutting its operations. How many people have had to uproot and go else where and leave their homes un sold?? The employment in the area is already at a huge stand still with no new industry coming in and if you think the marijuana plant is going to help OPEN YOUR EYES!

    • Everything to Gain
      August 18, 2014 - 11:30

      People want the mill operating within legal limits, right now the mill is running at almost double the limit. It's a protest to clean it up. OPEN YOUR EYES and read the article before jumping to Alex Jones like conclusions. Yes, if the mill did close it would do some damage to our economy, but without a sustainable environment there is no economy. Our biggest set back is that we depend too much on big business and look past what built Pictou County and Nova Scotia, and that is small business. One marijuana plant is not the cure for all of our problems but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Which leads me to Pictou County's next problem (at least here on this site) and that is an overwhelming generally negative attitude towards the county's economy. Yes it is bad, but this place has seen worse. We may not remember it but we have cruised through problems like this before, we need to get our Will and our Hearts back into Pictou County.

  • nothing to gain
    August 17, 2014 - 19:05

    So a lot of people are blaming the pulp mill for sickness. Have any of you done research on other pulp mills for a status on whether a sickness epidemic is caused from emisions? protesting to shut down the mill will make Pictou County cease to exist. Yes clean it up and use the new brushes that they already have. Who and where do you think employment will come from if it shuts down indefinitely. Sobeys?? Look at what is already being lost with part of Michelin shutting its operations. How many people have had to uproot and go else where and leave their homes un sold?? The employment in the area is already at a huge stand still with no new industry coming in and if you think the marijuana plant is going to help OPEN YOUR EYES!

    • Edmund Gerber
      August 18, 2014 - 07:41

      Well - I opened my eyes, but smog from the mill made them water. Seriously. You ask a lot of questions, but have no answers? Health before job! It's. That. Simple.