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Key stakeholders reject Northern Pulp focus report

The Northern Pulp mill is seen in Abercrombie Point in 2014, with the Town of Pictou in the background. FILE
The Northern Pulp mill is seen in Abercrombie Point in 2014, with the Town of Pictou in the background. - Christian Laforce
PICTOU, N.S. —

Several groups have rejected Northern Pulp’s focus report and want the province's environment minister to do the same.

The report made public last month states that the Abercrombie Point mill’s proposed effluent treatment facility would exceed stricter federal guidelines being developed for pulp and paper plants. It also shows that treated effluent coming out of the proposed pipe near Caribou won’t be cleaner than what ultimately enters the Northumberland Strait now at Boat Harbour.

“Northern Pulp has not provided the minister of environment with adequate information to determine that the project can be carried out without causing significant lasting harm to the environment and or human health,” said Friends of the Northumberland Strait president Jill Graham Scanlan, reading a joint statement from her organization, the Town of Pictou, Pictou Landing First Nation and the Fisherman’s Working Group representing 3,000 fishermen from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.

Scanlan was speaking at a press conference Tuesday in Pictou.

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson has until Dec. 17 to decide whether to approve the mill’s proposed effluent treatment facility, which would see treated effluent released into the Northumberland Strait.

Tuesday’s press conference aimed to send the message to Wilson that some key stakeholders in the outcome of his decision are not at all satisfied with Northern Pulp’s latest submission for project approval.

A primary concern raised by people opposed to the project is the effect effluent would have on the marine environment and on the lucrative Northumberland Strait fishery.

Speaking for the Fisherman’s Working Group, lawyer Jamie Simpson criticized Northern Pulp studies which only looked at potential negative impacts to the environment over a one-month period.

“Of course, their proposal is to be pumping effluent into the strait for far longer than a month," Simpson said in an interview. “What would it be over six months, or a year, or five years?”

Among the 11 terms and of reference the province told the mill to address in its focus report was the requirement to conduct studies on the potential impact on the fishery.

Colton Cameron, a fisherman who works at the Caribou Wharf in Pictou County said the project would harm fishing operations, including lobster, herring, rock crab and scallops.

In particular Cameron pointed to the potential for sea ice to damage the pipe and cause a leak.

“Ice can gouge through the pipe," Cameron said. “What happens if it breaks?”

The proposed route for the pipeline would cross overland along Hwy 106 and over the Town of Pictou’s watershed.

“Clean water is our greatest priority,” said Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan.

The potential for contamination to the town’s water supply are unacceptable, he said. “The town’s position is, no pipe in the watershed.”

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