Northern Pulp Nova Scotia says it is withdrawing its application for an environmental assessment review and will soon 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.
As the paper company prepares to release its new plan for an effluent treatment facility, it remains unknown whether the company will again propose to discharge treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait, a major source of controversy with its first proposal.
“We are committed to doing things differently,” announced Graham Kissack, VP of environment, health, safety and communications. “The withdrawal of the environmental assessment registration puts an end to previous plans and approaches and is an important step toward the future of the mill and rebuilding relationships with local residents, special interest groups and First Nations.”
The paper mill, currently in bankruptcy protection, 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.
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On December 20, 2019, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced that he would not allow Northern Pulp’s Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility to operate beyond the January 31, 2020 deadline. The decision occurred despite the company’s application being hung up in the provincial environmental assessment process. The facility had processed Northern Pulp’s effluent for some 50 years, but after a pipeline break, was essentially ordered by the province in 2015 to shut its doors by 2020. McNeil’s decision finally made the paper mill’s closure a reality.
Critics accused Northern Pulp of lacking critical information in its assessment application and Environment Minister Margaret Miller published terms of reference for a newly-required focus report.
Now, Northern Pulp officials say their plans will include a public dashboard to display live environmental data, third-party administration of environmental compliance testing, new advanced effluent treatment systems, and the implementation of oxygen delignification, among other important elements.
A new environmental assessment decision could be made as soon as mid-2022.