CBC News - Nova Scotia

NS says Northern Pulp treatment facility proposal needs more work

Michael Gorman

Dec 17, 2019
Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson says he does not have enough information to properly assess the potential effects to the environment of Northern Pulp's proposed effluent treatment plant.

"While there has been some good work done here, I have concluded I need more science-based information before me to properly assess the potential risks to air, water, fish and human health," WIlson said in a news release Tuesday.

The terms of reference for that report will be released by Jan. 10 and a 30-day public comment period will happen. From there the Pictou County mill would have up to two years to submit its environmental assessment report.

That means the matter will run squarely into the terms of the Boat Harbour Act, which calls for the mill to stop sending effluent to its current treatment facility in Boat Harbour by Jan. 31, 2020.

Watch Environment Minister Gordon Wilson press conference and reaction today

The province had until Tuesday to decide whether or not to approve Northern Pulp's proposal for a new treatment facility that would pump up to 85 million litres of treated effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait.

Wilson received more than 6,000 pages of comments from the public and government reviewers to consider as part of making his decision.

In a letter to the mill, Wilson wrote there wasn't enough information in the company's focus report about possible impacts on fish and fish habitat or human health, something he said was highlighted in comments from federal and provincial reviewers and from nearby Pictou Landing First Nation.

Wilson also raised concerns about the lack of certainty about raw wastewater characterizations and the limited amount of information the mill provided.

There wasn't enough information about the effectiveness of a thicker pipe that would be used to move the effluent to the Northumberland Strait or how possible leaks would be detected and addressed.

Further consultation with the Town of Pictou is also required to address their concerns about the pipeline route and the fact it crosses the town's watershed, Wilson told the company.


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