Some Pictou County residents are calling for the Northern Pulp mill to be shut down and cleaned up immediately, but government says that’s not an option right now.

Many protests have been held and petitions have circulated, expressing concerns over the chemical composition of smog coming from the mill in Abercrombie Point, N.S.

“The people of Pictou County have reached their tolerance in dealing with this very difficult situation,” says Karla MacFarlane, Progressive Conservative MLA for Pictou West.

“Clean up the mill, and if that means that we have to right now shut it down in order to clean it up so that we see it reopened, well then let’s do that.”

But Nova Scotia Environment Minister Randy Delorey says closing the mill isn’t an option right now. He says Northern Pulp has been working toward compliance since an agreed approach with the department last September.

Part of that approach includes installing a new precipitator, which is expected by next spring.

“That piece of equipment is designed to address particulate matter and the emissions coming out from the mill,” says Delorey.

The mill is located just across the harbour from Pictou and people who live and work in the area have been raising concerns, saying they have noticed a drop in tourism this summer.

They are also concerned about their health. Delorey says he is sensitive to their concerns, but health officials have indicated there is no immediate threat.

“That’s not to say the department is not continuing to look at information and update information,” says Delorey.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who is also the MP for the area, says the federal government has put $28 million toward addressing the issue, but says regulation and licensing fall to the province.

“I’m very concerned about this issue. I grew up in Pictou County. It’s my home,” says MacKay. “The federal government cannot got around and tell companies to shut their doors, particularly when the province says they’re within their regulations and their licence.”

The mill employs about 250 people.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh