The “complete makeover” of a critically-exhausted slow-motion NS mill
HALIFAX – The company behind a besieged mill in northern Nova Scotia proposes a “complete transformation” of its operations in an attempt to reopen the idle kraft mill, a plan that was quickly rebuked by local leaders and an environmentalist
HALIFAX – The company behind a besieged mill in northern Nova Scotia proposes a ‘complete transformation’ of its operations in an attempt to reopen the idle kraft mill, a plan that was quickly rebuked by local leaders and environmentalists.
The owner of the Mill Paper Excellence said his $ 350 million transformation plan would reduce water use, reduce wastewater components, reduce visible plumes from the mill’s chimneys and eliminate detectable odors during normal operations.
Yet despite additional steps to treat the wastewater, the plant restart plan continues to involve the discharge of treated effluent from the Northern Pulp plant into the port of Pictou.
The factory, which opened in the late 1960s, made kraft pulp, a key ingredient in the manufacture of toilet paper and other paper products. It was put on hold in January 2020 after the province banned the plant from dumping effluent near a local Mi’kmaq community.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan asked why the company took so long to propose to clean up the plant’s environmental footprint.
“As far as I’m concerned, they burned one too many bridge,” he said. “There would be very little tolerance for the effluents – treated or untreated – going directly to the port. “
The mayor of the picturesque tourist town, which is directly across from the Abercrombie Point factory harbor, added that residents were “extremely pleased” with the improvement in air quality since the closure of factory 18 months ago.
The mill has long been a source of tension in Pictou County, with the economic benefits of hundreds of rural forestry jobs set against environmental concerns and the impact on Pictou Landing First Nation.
The union representing the sacked forestry workers welcomed the proposal to restart the plant, which once employed around 300 people.
“We hope Northern Pulp’s plan to turn the plant into one of the cleanest in the world will meet Nova Scotia’s environmental standards so workers can return to their good jobs that are essential to the forestry sector in the world.” province, ”said Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor, in a statement.
The mayor of Pictou acknowledged that the economic impact of losing the plant is a real concern, but said the benefits of the jobs must be weighed against people’s health and the environment.
Graham Kissack, vice president of environment, health and safety at Paper Excellence, said the company recognizes community concerns and wants to work to build trust and finalize a transformation plan for a factory. clean and sustainable.
“When it comes to air emissions, people have clearly told us that they are tired of odors, particles and other site issues and we are correcting that,” he said.
The fumes from Northern Pulp’s chimneys have long been a problem for locals, sometimes creating smoggy conditions and an unpleasant smell of sulfur.
The plant also contaminated the tidal estuary of Boat Harbor, near Pictou Landing First Nation, where toxic sewage has been pumped for decades.
“Historically, we have let these groups down,” Kissack said, referring to local indigenous peoples. “We have to do better.”
Dale Paterson, head of transformation at Northern Pulp, said the major change with the company’s latest proposal is the addition of a third step in the wastewater cleanup process.
“What is radically different is the addition of tertiary treatment,” he said, noting that fully treated effluent would be discharged into the port. “The exact location will be determined by marine environmental studies.”
Jill Graham-Scanlan, president of the Friends of the Northumberland Strait, said the company was making “brilliant claims” but providing little concrete facts about how much effluent would be discharged into the port and what it was made up of.
In June 2020, the plant obtained protection for its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, a measure designed to allow the company to restructure.
Paper Excellence did not disclose details on how it plans to pay for its $ 350 million overhaul of the plant.
“It’s still early days to find out where we are in terms of setting our funding and how we’re going to get there,” Kissack said. “We have tentative green lights from government officials around the project, but those details are still being worked out.”
Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator at the Ecological Action Center, said it was too late to reclaim the existing plant.
“Rather than trying to fix this old pollution factory with new equipment that should have been added a long time ago to reduce pollution, the really appropriate and environmentally friendly proposal would be to build a whole new smaller factory. which consumes half the wood. he said.
“They also need to eliminate bleaching, which is the cause of much of the air and water pollution, and build their new mill away from Abercrombie Point in the middle of beautiful Pictou Harbor so that surrounding communities can develop tourism and other economic activities that are currently impossible due to the presence of this gigantic mill. ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 15, 2021.
Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press