Citizens continue to protest pulp mill emissions

Facebook group holds third protest in as many months

Published on August 17, 2014
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.” 

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

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.”