CARIBOU, NS - Fishermen have forced a survey boat believed to be mapping a potential route for Northern Pulp’s new treated effluent pipe back to shore.
The incident happened this morning after fishermen got word that the boat was in the strait.
Kathy Cloutier, director of communications for Paper Excellence Canada, which owns Northern Pulp, had said on Oct. 22 that the company was looking at a new route which would have an outfall location off Caribou Point. A coalition of fishermen from the region immediately issued a release opposing the plan.
Pictou County fisherman Allan MacCarthy said that he got word Oct. 23 that the survey boat doing work for Northern Pulp’s new outfall was in the Caribou Harbour, so he left Caribou Harbour himself and met the boat in the channel.
“I went out as a peacemaker and told them that everyone is not going to be as friendly as me,” he said. “There was a little foolish talk back and forth. But when the other boats started coming out of Caribou, they left the area.”
He said he escorted the boat back to Pier C in Pictou to make sure nothing would happen.
As of 11 a.m., there were about five boats in the Pier C harbour area and people from the survey boat were speaking with the RCMP. Around 12 p.m. police officers on scene got back into their cars and left and the boats dispersed.
MacCarthy said he supports the fishermen but wants to keep the peace.
“I didn’t want any trouble and I don’t want anyone to go to jail for Northern Pulp.”
He said he’s staying in the harbour until the dispute dies down and was told the survey boat would not be returning to Caribou today.
About a dozen vehicles have gathered at the pier as well.
The province has committed to shutting down the Boat Harbour facility by the end of January 2020. In its place, Northern Pulp wants to build a pipe that would discharge treated effluent several kilometres out in the Northumberland Strait, a plan that has met considerable opposition.
Most recently, Northern Pulp presented its latest proposed route for the pipe to stakeholders – including the associations representing fishermen from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the Pictou Landing First Nation – on Oct. 22. The plan was to pipe effluent alongside the causeway running toward Pictou and continue adjacent to the road running to the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry and then out into the Northumberland Strait, but it was met with opposition.
The day before that meeting, a leak to the pipe carrying effluent to the Boat Harbour treatment facility on Oct. 21 prompted the provincial environment department to investigate.
Remediation work began immediately, with no effluent escaping into the East River. Officials say the spill on Indian Cross Point, about midway between the road and the East River, was confined to a wetland area.
The Pictou County mill, which has been in operation since 1967, began its annual maintenance shutdown Oct. 20.
More to come