The provincial Environment Department is investigating a spill from a pipe that carries effluent from the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point.
Northern Pulp spokeswoman Kathy Cloutier said the company confirmed a leak shortly after it was notified about it Sunday at 9:20 a.m.
“Immediate action was taken to stop the flow of effluent,”` Cloutier said in a statement Sunday. “Northern Pulp officials instantly notified First Nations and authorities of the incident.
“Northern Pulp has arranged for a third-party environmental consultant to be on site this afternoon for assessment and development of a path-forward plan.”
Cloutier said the Pictou County mill, which has been in operation since 1967, began its annual maintenance shutdown Saturday.
She said the company will work with agencies in the coming days.
“The company notified us immediately of this leak, as they are required to do,” said Bruce Nunn, spokesman for the provincial Environment Department.
“We’ve begun our investigation and have had staff on site today.”
Nunn said Northern Pulp is required to hire a site professional to oversee the repair and remediation work. “That work has begun,” he said.
The pipe carries effluent from the mill to the Boat Harbour treatment facility near the Pictou Landing reserve.
The province has committed to shut 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.
The Pictou Landing First Nation posted a message online late Sunday morning advising community members of the spill.
Chief Andrea Paul followed that up with a Facebook post that said the spill was on Indian Cross Point, about midway between the road and the East River. She said the spill was noticed by a man who was out for his morning walk.
Paul provided another update on her Facebook page Sunday evening.
“Remediation is well underway,” she wrote after speaking with Northern Pulp officials.
“There is no spill going into the East River. The spill has entered into a wetland area (and) is being vacuumed up and then taken to the treatment plant.”
The chief said any band members who want to view the spill should wait for security to escort them to the site.
“This is for your safety, as there are big trucks in the area,” she said.