With any amount of good fortune, a few years from now we’ll look back on the travesty of Boat Harbour as an industrial waste site and wonder how it went on for so long.
We also hope to remember these past couple of days as the time this wrong to the environment in Nova Scotia began to turn around.
The news this week of a leak in the pipeline carrying the effluent from Northern Pulp was, as one might expect, disturbing. But a small group of protesters managed to use it as an opportunity to tell the company, the public and the province: enough is enough.
Members of the Pictou Landing First Nation say they have an ancestral claim to land affected by the spill – which until shut off was making its way into the East River in Pictou County. The story has been hashed over many times over the decades, how the aboriginals living in the area had no say about this method of waste treatment bordering their reserve – that they were even duped into believing it would pose no toxic risk.
Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul has said her community has to be included in the way forward out of this current mess. She’s made it clear the peaceful protest is not aimed at closing the plant, but is insisting that the company and province make those overdue improvements to waste treatment and clean up the site.
They certainly have wide public support, as people have challenged the performance of the plant, through multiple owners over the years, on both the water treatment lagoon and airborne emissions.
This province hasn’t had a stellar record in standing up to industry, not when it comes to enforcing safety standards nor in protecting the environment. It’s about time to grow a backbone.
The company has called the leak a result of normal wear and tear. That doesn’t tell us much, though, especially considering the line had a leak only six years ago. How do we know what’s coming?
This is on the Northumberland Strait, a relatively small body of water. It just can’t continue indefinitely.