Wastewater from Nova Scotia pulp mill to flow past legislated closure
HALIFAX -- Discharge from the Northern Pulp mill will continue to flow into a treatment lagoon in Boat Harbour past the legislated Jan. 31 deadline for the treatment facility's closure, says Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
McNeil said Tuesday there will be an orderly shutdown as the mill is winterized, but it will take time to clean out what's left in the boiler and the pipe leading to the current effluent treatment facility in Boat Harbour.
That means boiler water and waste from the discharge pipe will continue to flow into the lagoon
He told reporters the process wouldn't breach the Boat Harbour Act because "no new effluent" will be flowing into the current treatment facility near the Pictou Landing First Nation.
"We will meet the terms of not only of the Boat Harbour Act, but we will meet the terms associated with the federal regulations," McNeil said. "This mill will not be operational in terms of being able to produce pulp."
Northern Pulp has moved to mothball the mill after its plan for a new treatment system that would see it pump treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait was rejected by the province last month.
The province is responsible for the pipe cleanup and McNeil said it would likely take until the end of April before the pipe is cleaned, capped and disconnected from the mill.
In a news release earlier Tuesday, Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul expressed disappointment because her community was expecting a complete shutdown of Boat Harbour by Jan. 31.
Paul said her community has not agreed to allow Northern Pulp to continue to use Boat Harbour past the deadline, adding she's "very frustrated" because she is yet to see the winterization plan for the mill.
"The community is planning a ceremony on Jan. 31 to mark the start of the remediation of Boat Harbour and we are not sure what is happening. I don't know what to tell them," she said.
Paul, who could not be reached for comment following McNeil's remarks, said Northern Pulp could have started draining its pipes weeks ago in order to complete the work before the deadline.
McNeil said he discussed the situation with Paul a couple of weeks ago and said the province is still waiting on the mill's plan for the disposal of leachate at the mill site, expected within the next week. He said that plan would also include the capping of manhole covers that receive runoff water on the mill's property.
The premier skirted around questions on whether the work should have been done earlier.
"Here's where we are," McNeil said. "The reality of it is we also have an issue, and that's the pipe, and we couldn't do anything with the pipe until the 31st."
Northern Pulp's parent company, Paper Excellence, has committed to continue with a mandated environmental assessment process and is currently reviewing a draft terms of reference issued by the province.
The public has until Feb. 7 to comment on the draft and the company will be provided with final terms in April. After that, it will have up to two years to complete a report.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.