PICTOU LANDING – Nova Scotia Environment is continuing to monitor the cleanup of Tuesday’s effluent leak from Northern Pulp.
Lori Errington, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Environment, noted that some of Northern Pulp’s effluent is resting in marshy wetlands and along the Pictou Landing side of the East River.
“Our teams of investigators have been doing research and taking photos to get to the bottom of this issue,” she said. “At this point, we don’t know why or how long the spill took place, but it was substantial.”
She clarified that reports citing Environment Minister Randy Delorey – who was quoted stating around 4.5 million litres had been released – were incorrect.
“That was misunderstood and we wouldn’t venture a guess at this point. We know a substantial amount was released.”
Photos and videos emerged Friday morning that show the effluent pipe and site of the leak at Indian Cross Point exposed.
Michelle Francis-Denny said there was a bad feeling amongst the group at the blockade in the morning, prompting them to check on the site.
She posted a video and photo of the exposed pipe after seeing it at 6:30 a.m.
“I kind of felt a little bit betrayed,” she said, adding that she thinks council and the community should have been consulted about the exposed pipe.
Northern Pulp stated that no excavation or equipment had been moved onto the site and that no digging had been done.
“It is my understanding that the soil was pushed away from the force of the break in the pipe,” said David MacKenzie of Northern Pulp.
Nova Scotia Environment confirmed that this is the likely reason the pipe is now exposed.
“To the best of our knowledge, the soil was blown out when the leak happened under the force of the pressure,” said Errington. “The pool that remained was removed from the sucker trucks.”
Minister Randy Delorey met with Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul Tuesday afternoon.
Delorey has been criticized by Pictou County opposition MLAs for having yet to visit the site and protesters. Errington noted that the minister has been very busy.
“The minster is in discussions today and has been working with an interdepartmental committee formed to address the cleanup of Boat Harbour. It’s a priority of this government.”
Errington conceded that Boat Harbour is a difficult and complex file that is currently at the information-gathering phase.
“Remediation isn't going to happen overnight. It's impossible to say what it is going to cost.”
She said they will keep the public apprised of the situation however.
In the meantime, she said the department has received samples of the effluent to do their own testing.
“Normally, the company would do testing, but because of the sensitive nature of this file, we did our own testing,” she said. “Some of those tests take weeks.”
She said the department had received calls of concern about pollution spreading to Melmerby beach but when staff got there, there was no effluent and no evidence of a fish kill. They did take some samples to test, however.
With files from Amanda Jess