TRURO, N.S. – They came rumbling down the highway in their big rigs and semis, a convoy of protest a hundred strong.
Truckers lined the shoulders of Hwy 104 Thursday, just north of Truro, with their rigs. They’re asking that the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie be granted more time in which to close its waste effluent treatment operation at Boat Harbour, slated for Jan. 31 next year.
But with no agreed-upon alternative for waste disposal, many believe the province’s deadline may jeopardize Northern Pulp’s operations in Pictou County and have a major effect on Nova Scotia’s trucking industry, unless an extension is granted.
“We’ve had great support,” said driver Matthew MacGillivary, from LG MacGillivary and Son Lumbering Ltd. in Parrsboro. “We’ve got a lot of trucks from all over the province, we had a couple here from New Brunswick, we just had a truck show up here from P.E.I. This isn’t just Nova Scotia that’s going to be affected here, this is Maritimes-wide.”
Fellow trucker Jeff Black, from J.C. Black Trucking Ltd, was also pleased by the turnout, with 65 trucks already parked on Hwy 104 near the Hwy 102 interchange by early afternoon. More came from Northern Pulp later Thursday, bringing turnout to about 100 vehicles.
“Hopefully the government will see us and help us out in that respect and the everyday people need to understand how this affects everyone in the province, and obviously in the Maritimes,” said Black.
Joining the truckers was a small group of plumbers, pipefitters and welders, protesting under the banner of United Association Local 244.
UA member Ben Chisholm said Northern Pulp provides many well-paying jobs locally and its owners are committed to cleaning up Boat Harbour.
The province has ordered the closure of Boat Harbour by Jan. 31 next year.
But environmental activists, First Nations people and fishermen in Pictou County have opposed one proposed option, to pipe treated wastewater into the Northumberland Strait.
“This is the first owner that wanted to clean up the place and they’re running into all this opposition,” said Chisholm, as passing vehicles honked their support. “It’s not good. It’s going to kill the economy.”
Northern Pulp first began the treatment operation at Boat Harbour in 1967.