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Fishermen protest pipe proposal

Ryan Fleury, Dave Scanlan, Edwin Shaw and Nicholas Hemphill participate in a protest to raise awareness of what they believe is at stake with the eventual closing of an effluent treatment facility by Northern Pulp.
Ryan Fleury, Dave Scanlan, Edwin Shaw and Nicholas Hemphill participate in a protest to raise awareness of what they believe is at stake with the eventual closing of an effluent treatment facility by Northern Pulp. - Sam MacDonald

Group gathers outside Northern Pulp mill to raise awareness

ABERCROMBIE POINT - A small group of concerned fishermen protested Wednesday at the end of the road leading to Northern Pulp.

According to Ryan Fleury, a fisherman from the Caribou ferry wharf and one of Wednesday’s group wielding signs outside the mill, they were out to raise community awareness. The group consisted of fishermen from Pictou County, and Antigonish County.

“We just want to get as many people as possible knowing what’s going on,” said Fleury. “There’s a lot of people in communities that aren’t aware that they want to take a pipe and put it into the strait.”

The protest, which began at the start of the week, was one Fleury got to as soon as he could, after rigging up his boat for scallop fishing.

The reactions of those passing the scene was mixed. Some honked in solidarity, while others showed much less sympathy.

“A lot of people were showing their support, while other people pulled up and asked us what we were doing, asking what was going on,” said Fleury. “For the most part, though, everyone kind of knows what we’re doing, and what we have to do.”

Fleury stressed that he and the rest of the protesters “want everyone to work. We’re a hundred per cent not against people working (at Northern Pulp). We want both sides to co-exist in the county together – but we want this done the right way,” he said, referring to Northern Pulp’s plans to shut down the effluent treatment facility at Boat Harbour in 2020 and build a new system.

During the protest an RCMP officer pulled up, simply asking the protesters how everything was going.

“We said there were no issues,” said Fleury, “and then he said ‘have a nice day.’ Everything has been very peaceful, and that’s the way we want it.”

“You’re going to see us here more and more over the next few coming days, weeks and months – however long it takes,” he added.

In response to the protest, Kathy Cloutier, director of communications, wrote, “we respect the right of the fishers to express their concerns, however, we do ask for the opportunity to present that actual project and science that informed the design.”

Cloutier noted the proposed design for the replacement treatment facility is entering a public consultation stage, and in those sessions and engagements, the company will present the design and “obtain specific concerns and questions regarding the project.”

Cloutier stressed that Northern Pulp has been releasing treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait for five decades, and since the effluent treatment facility was leased and began treating effluent from Northern Pulp, effluent has met – and often exceeded – all pulp and paper effluent regulations.

Another point in the letter from Cloutier to The News was that various federal government departments have been at the table alongside Nova Scotia environmental assessment officials throughout the process – something Cloutier wrote “will certainly continue.

“Should anyone be under the impression that discussions do not include the federal government – this is incorrect. DFO, Transport Canada, Natural Resources and Environment Canada are involved with the multiple aspects of this project.”

Information flyers are being distributed to residences across Pictou County, informing people of the information sessions next week, in New Glasgow and Abercrombie.

Cloutier added, “We encourage everyone to make their way out to a session and fully learn about the project.”

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