PICTOU, N.S. -- A pulp mill in northern Nova Scotia that's facing criticism over its emissions still isn't meeting environmental standards but it's owners say they are making improvements.

Northern Pulp's aging equipment, particularly its electrostatic precipitator, hasn't been able to meet legal limits for emissions in Pictou and other neighbouring communities.

But in a news release today the mill's owners say they are making progress and expect better results after a planned shutdown next month.

Mill spokesman David MacKenzie says the levels of particulates in the plume fell by 25 per cent in a mid-July test compared to results last fall.

That brings the particulate levels to 500 milligrams per cubic metre, while the legal limit is 375 milligrams per cubic metre.

MacKenzie says next month the mill will install new scrubber spray nozzles that will inject more water into the emissions and experts will conduct annual maintenance on the precipitator and recovery boiler.

He says it's expected tests done after these improvements will show further reductions in particulate emissions, but it's not certain it will bring levels into compliance.