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LETTER: Effluent is still effluent

To the editor:

I am writing to alert readers to two important errors in the article “Northern Pulp considering hot idle option,” published by Saltwire Network on Jan. 4.

The errors appear to come from statements made by Robin Wilbur of Elmsdale Lumber.

The article states, “to keep the mill in hot idle would require taking water from the Middle River and running it through the boilers to keep them going. This water (which would not contain chemicals) would then be released into Boat Harbour. He (Wilbur) said this wouldn’t contravene the Boat Harbour Act because it wouldn’t be effluent …”

The Boat Harbour Act uses the same definition for “effluent” as federal Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations:

“ effluent means … waste water from a mill, other than waste water from the treatment of intake water, including process water, gas scrubbing water, boiler blow-down water, wash-down water, cooling water, leachate from any site at the mill where solid residues generated by any mill are treated or disposed of, and leachate from any site at the mill where wood chips or hogfuel are stored..."

Therefore, it is not correct to state that the discharge from a hot idle is not effluent, or that the mill could continue to use Boat Harbour to receive this discharge. This would violate the Boat Harbour Act, which requires that effluent stop flowing into Boat Harbour on Jan. 31, 2020.

Second, the article claims that water from a hot idle would not contain chemicals.

There is no information available about the composition of effluent that would be generated if Northern Pulp went into a hot idle. There is no evidence that the effluent from a hot idle would not contain chemicals. The effluent stream is fed from many parts of the Northern Pulp site, and includes surface run-off and domestic sewage. Any discharge would be untreated.

These are important errors. Their publication added additional tensions to a situation where tensions are already high. We wish that Saltwire had taken the time to check the accuracy of these statements before circulating them widely.

Sincerely,

Jill Graham-Scanlan

President, Friends of the Northumberland Strait

Pictou, N.S.

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