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Effluent dump in Northumberland Strait of 'dire concern,' says P.E.I. Fisheries minister

P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac in the legislature. (Guardian file photo)
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac in the legislature. (Guardian file photo)

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The possibility of wastewater from a Nova Scotia pulp mill being released into the Northumberland Strait has P.E.I. lobster fishermen raising alarms, and now P.E.I.’s Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac is taking those concerns to federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

The issue was raised in question period in the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday when Opposition fisheries critic Colin LaVie challenged McIsaac on what is being done at the provincial level to protect P.E.I.’s lobster stock in the Strait from being contaminated.

Northern Pulp in Pictou, Nova Scotia has been told by the N.S. government to replace the mill's effluent treatment plant by 2020. But updating the facility could involve a process that would see wastewater drained into the Northumberland Strait.

McIsaac says this issue is of “grave concern” to industry stakeholders over the possibility of contaminating the Island’s lucrative lobster industry.

He says he has outlined these concerns with the fisheries minister in Nova Scotia and with LeBlanc in Ottawa.

“I’ve wrote a letter to them expressing the dire concerns we have about this and we want this plant cleaned up, but not by dumping the waste into the Northumberland Strait,” McIsaac said.

“This is one of our largest industries here, how can some private operation dump wastewater into the Strait?... We cannot have this effluent coming from that plant going into the waters that could affect not only our lobster fishery but also those in Nova Scotia.”

LaVie noted the amount of effluent that could be released into the Strait could equal to the volume that 19,800 pumper fire trucks can hold, each day.

“I stand with our fishers and I oppose this project into the Strait. Will you do the same?” LaVie said.

McIsaac agreed. He says he is trying to determine why the effluent cannot be discharged inland and will be working with his provincial and federal counterparts to find a solution to this issue.

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