Wait and see as time winds down on Northern Pulp deadline
The future of Northern Pulp remains unclear.
The province has until Tuesday to make a decision whether to approve a proposed treatment facility which would pump treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait.
"Any decision that a regulator makes in the world of an environmental assessment is based on science and best evidence, so that's what my decision is going to be based on," said Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson.
Wilson has three options: to reject the proposal, to ask for more information, or to approve it.
Wilson won't say if he's made a decision yet, but did say he has read a focus report by Northern Pulp as well as every single submission from the public.
"I've gone through 3,000 submissions. It's been quite a read," Wilson said.
As the deadline creeps closer, many people, like local fishermen, are left wondering what will happen.
Allan MacCarthyof the Northumberlands' Fishermen's Associationsays in his group's view, the minister has limited options because questions weren't answered in the focus report.
"So, it's either a failure, or it's a full environmental assessment," MacCarthy said.
Opposition MLAs are also waiting for the province's decision.
"The reality is that we're two weeks before Christmas and we have thousands of people across this province with sleepless nights, on the edge of their seat, not knowing what is going to happen," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston. "And that's a failure of this government."
In a statement, Northern Pulp said in part:
"We look forward to a positive outcome from the Nova Scotia Environment Department's review of the focus report and will hold comments until that time."
Northern Pulp has said without the proposed treatment facility the company could stop production.
Under the Boat Harbour Act, the current facility must close by the end of January.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says he does not know what the environment minister will decide.
"I said at the end of last year, this would be the biggest issue facing the province this year, both economically and environmentally, and the minister has a role and responsibility as regulator and I look forward to hearing from him," McNeil said.
The deadline for the minister to make his decision is Tuesday.
When questioned by reporters about when we could expect a decision on the Northern Pulp file, Wilson offered no hints, so it's wait and see.