More Questions for Northern Pulp
The Minister of Environment emerged today to offer his assessment of the effluent treatment plan proposed by Northern Pulp.
Gordon Wilson did not say yes, nor did he say no. Instead, the Minister sent the company back to the drawing board.
The Pictou County mill will have to file an environmental assessment report for its proposed effluent treatment plant before the minister will decide.
Speaking of the company’s proposal, Wilson said, “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.” He added, “An environmental assessment report will have to address these issues, and others, to be successful.”
Proponents and opponents alike were waiting with bated breath for the minister’s eleventh hour announcement today. His call for more detail simply postpones the decision without addressing the question of what happens to Boat Harbour, the current effluent pond that has been deemed by everyone to be an environmental catastrophe.
Wilson says the Department of Environment will post draft terms of reference for the requested study on the department’s website by January 10th. The public and government reviewers will have thirty days to comment.
The company could take up to two years to complete the impact study, well past the deadline for closure of the current effluent treatment process which dumps into Boat Harbour.
The McNeil government served notice five years ago that Boat Harbour had to close by January 31, 2020. Since then, the Premier has often repeated there would be no extension to that deadline.
McNeil was not available for comment today as his Environment Minister pushed the mill, the forestry sector, and Nova Scotia’s economy into deeper uncertainty.
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