P.E.I. will have input into N.S. mill's effluent plan: Minister
The Northern Pulp mill is seen in Abercrombie, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's environment minister says he understands that P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan has concerns about a pulp mill's plan to pump effluent into the Northumberland Strait, and says Islanders will have a chance for input.
Iain Rankin responded Thursday to a letter released this week by MacLauchlan that voiced the premier's disapproval of the Northern Pulp proposal in Pictou, N.S.
The mill -- which is across the strait from eastern P.E.I. -- is to submit an environmental assessment for its proposed treatment facility to the Nova Scotia Environment Department this summer, likely in July.
Rankin was asked whether he thought the Island government has a stake in his department's decision-making process.
"He (MacLauchlan) is within his right to express his opinion," was all Rankin would say to reporters following a cabinet meeting.
"He is entitled to those opinions, but we have a commitment to Pictou Landing First Nations to close the Boat Harbour treatment facility by 2020."
In the letter, sent Tuesday to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, MacLauchlan said he shares concerns from fishermen that an outflow pipe could have "unintended consequences" for local fisheries.
"An effluent pipe that would allow as much as 75,000 cubic metres of fresh warm water to be directed daily into the Northumberland Strait is not a project that our government will support as proposed," MacLauchlan wrote.
Rankin pointed out that treated effluent from the mill's pulp-making process has been flowing into the strait for the last 50 years.
Rankin said the assessment process includes a 30-day period set aside for public submissions. He said he would look at any sent by P.E.I. residents.
"Absolutely. I want to hear from anyone that is a stakeholder in this, it's important."
Rankin said the province would also be asking for advice from the federal Fisheries Department "to see what possible impacts there could be." He said Ottawa could also trigger a federal environmental assessment if it feels one is required.
He said he had received no word yet from federal officials on whether further assessments are being contemplated.
Northern Pulp released its plan for a new effluent treatment plant last month.
The company says the effluent would be treated at a new facility near the mill using a system that would meet all federal environmental standards for suspended solids and oxygen depletion.
It would be carried by polyethylene pipe across Pictou Harbour and released through six dispersal pipes into the strait.