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Public will have chance to give input on whether Northern Pulp project should undergo federal assessment says Sean Fraser


The Northern Pulp facility in Pictou County. The province contention that because any new effluent treatment facility would have to undergo an environmental assessment, the province and the mill would have to consult with the First Nation before its construction, but a Supreme court judge said this argument “misses the mark.” - File
The Northern Pulp facility in Pictou County. FILE

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will seek the public’s opinion on whether or not Northern Pulp’s new effluent treatment facility should undergo a federal assessment, according to Central Nova MP Sean Fraser.

Provincial politicians have recently said they want the same level of scrutiny being shown the Boat Harbour Remediation project to also be given to the treatment facility’s replacement.

“With respect to the suggestion that the federal government should also be considering feedback on the proposed effluent treatment facility, I can assure you that a similar opportunity for public comment will arise for that project shortly after Northern Pulp formally files its proposal,” Fraser said.
“In the interim, I have been watching both projects closely and have been meeting with many concerned residents and stakeholders locally to understand their concerns and ensure that their feedback is properly considered in Ottawa.”

Northern Pulp plans to build a new effluent treatment facility to replace the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility on its location at Abercrombie Point. Their plan is to then pump treated effluent to the Northumberland Strait for release.  The company has said it will submit its project to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment by the end of this month. That will then trigger the start of a 45-day period that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has to consider whether it should undergo a full federal environmental assessment. Included in that 45 days is a 20-day consultation period.

Fraser said he has asked the agency to ensure they engage with groups impacted by the project. He added the agency has already been compiling letters and information they receive from both the public as well as Northern Pulp which has been sharing information with the agency since around April 2017.

The federal agency has already met with people from Pictou Landing First Nation, as well as Northern Pulp and the fisheries association, Fraser said.

“Right now, I want to make sure that there’s no stone unturned,” he said.

Because of his position as Parliamentary Secretary for the Department of Environment, he said it would be a conflict of interest for him to pre-judge the project and say whether or not it should undergo a federal assessment. But he said he feels it’s important for the public to have a say either way on whether they feel it’s necessary or not.

“I’m encouraging everyone to give their feedback as part of the process,” he said.

A similar review is currently being done for the remediation work for Boat Harbour to be completed after the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility closes.

Kathy Cloutier, director of communications for Paper Excellence, which owns Northern Pulp, said they be happy to oblige a federal assessment.

“The only caveat would be that we would need an extension to the Boat Harbour Act,” she said.

The Boat Harbour Act currently mandates the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility that Northern Pulp is currently using, close by Jan. 31, 2020.

Northern Pulp has already said it would like an extension for that deadline in order to build the new treatment facility and have it operational.

A federal environmental assessment, if determined necessary, could take up to 365 days to complete.

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