Northern pulp appeals ministerial cleanup order, pauses environmental assessment

Northern pulp appeals ministerial cleanup order, pauses environmental assessment
Northern Pulp mill.

The parent company for the idled Northern Pulp mill says it has filed an appeal with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court related to a ministerial order issued last month for the management of the site. Paper Excellence Canada says the order imposes terms and conditions that are “impractical” and show a “lack of understanding of the pulp and paper industry and effluent treatment facilities.”

The order, issued by Environment Minister Gordon Wilson, outlined requirements for the collection and disposal of storm water and landfill leachate from the site.  It also required the mill to hire a third-party professional engineer to develop a decommissioning plan for the effluent pipeline as well as for open ditches and settling basins.

The company also says it has informed Wilson it intends to pause the environmental assessment process for a new effluent treatment facility in order to hold further discussions with various industry and community groups about the way forward. The pulp mill stopped production on Jan. 31 after the province rejected its request to continue pumping treated effluent into a nearby treatment lagoon in Boat Harbour, N.S., near the Pictou Landing First Nation.

“We remain concerned that the environmental assessment, based on the current terms of reference, is ambiguous and would not result in a clear outcome,” said Graham Kissack, vice-president for environment, health, safety and communications for Paper Excellence Canada. “Pausing the assessment will provide time for us to further engage the community in discussion about the mill and its future, how we can best co-exist, and an appropriate environmental assessment process for the environmental improvement being proposed.”

The province also announced last month that it was providing a maximum of $10 million under an agreement with Northern Pulp to help with the cleanup of the site.

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