We need to choose our words carefully and avoid emotion when discussing our mill problem to prevent causing serious social damage. Pictou County doesn't need our good families, workers or businesses (including Pictou Lodge and the mill) pitted against or fighting with one another. What we all need is to work together to find a solution that works for us all.
We know that Pictou mill has poisoned and damaged our local air and water environment for 50 years since it began production in 1967 by releasing noxious gases into the air through its stacks and piping its effluent through Boat Harbour into the Northumberland Strait. And yes, that effluent did environmental damage to Boat Harbour.
But we don't know if the effluent did damage to the Strait's fishery or, if it did do any harm, the extent of damage.
We know that for 42 of its 50 years, the mill was operated by three former owners: Scott Maritimes Pulp Limited, Kimberly–Clark Corp. and Neenah Paper Inc. They all played "fast and loose," giving inadequate attention to environmental concerns and government regulations.
However, in considering this, I realized that other than its name, Northern Pulp, I knew nothing about its new owner. My question: "Is this new owner any different or is it same old?"
So I looked up Northern Pulp in our provincial joint stocks online registry where I was inspired with some confidence to learn that it was a new Nova Scotia company formed and incorporated in April 2012 and operated by a four-member board that includes two directors, former premier John Hamm from Stellarton and Choong Wei Tan from Richmond, B.C., Bruce Chapman the mill's general manager from New Glasgow, and John Roberts the company's recognized agent who has its corporate office in Halifax.
Three of these men are from this area and Nova Scotia and I don't believe we should overlook or take lightly John Hamm's lengthy past reputation of trying to lead and do the right thing for all Nova Scotians.
A recent article by Dan Leger, former news editor of the Chronicle Herald, advises that Paper Excellence Canada, based in British Columbia, owns Northern Pulp along with five other Canadian mills. I looked up information about Paper Excellence Canada on its website and was further encouraged by the writeup I found there including a very informative video.
Based on this research, I now believe and suggest that:
1. The company now seems much more in tune with environmental concerns. They are willingly spending millions to upgrade and improve their processes and trying their utmost to work within and meet all government environmental regulations.
2. We now need to look to the mill and our governments to co-operate in doing the studies and making the necessary decisions on our needs. If required, I believe Paper Excellence Canada has the wherewithal to solve this problem. But do we need to totally change the mill's pulp-making process to a zero-effluent closed system or will something less suffice?
3. Then we need to all work together in harmony taking the extra time and spending the extra dollars for the solution required.