The Northern Pulp paper mill in Nova Scotia won an injunction last month against protesters who blocked water surveyors because they were upset over the company’s plans to build an effluent pipe into the Northumberland Strait.
Despite the mill’s December 18, 2018 victory, which means the boat blockade would not be able to happen again legally, at least in the short term, there is still no exact date for survey work to recommence in the strait. The company has publicly stated that the safety of its survey employees remains its top priority, and it will wait until logistics with law enforcement are as clear as possible.
Employees with CSR GeoSurveys Limited, the company hired to do the survey work, have claimed that death threats were made to the surveyors out on the water.
Even outside the court building where the injunction hearing was held, more than 50 protesters gathered in opposition to the company’s pipe plan.
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The Supreme Court Justice ruled that the fishermen have the right to “lawful protest,” but not the legal right to block the survey vessels. The judge noted that mill officials and fishermen protestors would have to return to court on January 29 to determine whether the boat blockade should be permanently banned from interfering with the surveyors.
In November, local fishermen formed a blockade that prevented a Northern Pulp survey vessel from doing water research for its controversial pipe, which would run along the floor of Pictou Harbour to an outflow area that would use a diffuser system to release the bleached kraft pulp mill’s effluent in smaller intervals.
The underwater pipe plan would be combined with a new treatment facility to handle some 75,000 cubic metres 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.
The fishermen’s blockade came on the heels of a faulty pipe leak at the mill in October, and a series of protests during summer 2018 when more than 1,000 people protested the mill’s plans, raising signs such as “No Pipe, No Way!” near the marina in Pictou.