EA for Northern Pulp effluent treatment facility given one-year extension

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Northern Pulp mill photo
The mill’s original plan had been to build a treatment facility to handle some 75,000 m3 of wastewater daily, using an activated sludge treatment system that would aerate and settle the effluent into a large tank on the mill’s property. Photo Credit: Paper Excellence

Northern Pulp, the Nova Scotia paper mill that closed its doors in 2020 after the province rejected plans for a new effluent treatment facility, has received a one-year extension to complete a new environmental assessment for the facility. 

The extension means the new submission deadline for Northern Pulp is March 14, 2025. 

The paper mill has operated in the Pictou area since 1967. Ever since, pumping wastewater into nearby polluted lagoons has created environmental and cultural controversy for the province. 

The proposed project has arisen out of 2015 legislation that ordered the original effluent treatment facility to shutter by early 2020, following a pipeline rupture that spilled some 47 million litres of effluent into a wetland in 2014. Boat Harbour’s current heavily polluted treatment lagoon remains on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation. 

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The mill’s original plan had been to build a treatment facility to handle some 75,000 m3 of wastewater daily, using an activated sludge treatment system that would aerate and settle the effluent into a large tank on the mill’s property. 

In spring 2021, Northern Pulp officials withdrew their application for an environmental assessment review, stating they wanted to reveal a new design for an effluent treatment facility that brings a more modern approach to forestry practices and addresses odour, air and water emissions.  

The mill has had its creditor protection extended more than 10 times since it was forced to close. Most recently, a court extended that protection until June 2024. 

Following those proceedings, the company may resume the $450-million lawsuit it filed against the provincial government in 2021, seeking damages and lost profits for the premature end to its lease on Boat Harbour. 

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