Dr. Gerry Farrell: Enough is enough with pollution

Letter to the Editor

Published on August 13, 2014

I would like to add my voice to the outrage over the continued pollution from the Northern Pulp Mill at Abercrombie Point.

My family have been residents of the picturesque little town of Pictou for more than thirty years and after many promises over the years from various owners to clean up this mess, precious little has been done.

I feel it is beyond comprehension why our governments of different political persuasions have not demanded a solution to this problem instead of continuing to give this corporation many millions of our hard earned tax dollars. I strongly feel that our government should be making decisions for the common good, and surely, the spewing of this foul particulate matter into the air we all breath, is in the interest of a small minority and big business.   

As a physician and in particular as a Palliative Care physician in the county, every day I see people with lung cancer and other chronic lung disease who are impacted by the foul air we all have to breathe. I cannot prove cause - effect relationship between the mill and these diseases but when looking at statistics which show such a high incidence of cancer and chronic lung problems in our community, one cannot help thinking that it is a major contributing factor. I know that cigarette smoking is a factor also but doesn't cause the whole problem.  

As we are hearing from our business leaders this continuing problem is having a major effect on business and tourism, which, I feel, could be a major force in the county if this problem were not here. I know it is an impediment to people moving into town and also a major reason why a lot of our young educated professionals are not returning here to settle after finishing their education elsewhere.

It would certainly be a loss to the county should this mill close, but the county would be an attractive area for more friendly industry to move to. Pictou and its environs have a lot to offer and is a wonderful place to live. It would be a much healthier place to call home if this industry was forced to either solve the problem now  or close until it is corrected. If that means it would not open again, then I feel, it is worth the risk. Surely our health is more important than making money for Northern Pulp's shareholders living far away from the pollution it is presenting to us daily. The millions of dollars our government continues to donate to this company would go a long way to providing retraining or supplementing those whose pensions would be affected.

It is time that Pictou County residents say that enough is enough and get our air cleaned up without further delay.  

Yours sincerely,   

Gerry Farrell, Pictou