Representatives from a Nova Scotia paper mill appeared before a parliamentary committee in Prince Edward Island on Friday to defend a sewage treatment plant project that raises concerns on both sides of the border. Northumberland Strait.
The Northern Pulp pulp and paper mill in Pictou County needs to replace its wastewater treatment system. For a little over 50 years, the company has treated its effluent in a ventilated pond and then dumped it in a small harbor.
In 2015, the Nova Scotia government passed a law that prohibits the discharge of effluents into harbors such as the one where paper mills discharge their wastewater.
The new wastewater treatment plant proposed by Northern Pulp would release up to 75,000 cubic meters of effluent a day in the Northumberland Strait, about 10 kilometers from Nova Scotia.
“What we are proposing with the new system is to introduce effluents into the Strait in a more environmentally sound way, that is, to allow effluents to disperse into the Strait of Canada. a much smoother way than it is now, “says Guy Martin, senior advisor for environmental projects at KSH Solutions, an engineering firm working on the Pictou County Paper Mill Project.
Concerns and opposition
In a parliamentary committee, the plant’s general manager, Bruce Chapman, said in turn that the project meets Nova Scotia’s environmental standards.
However, the company’s plans are of concern to Prince Edward Island officials and many fishermen on both sides of the Strait. In late January, Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan sent a letter to his Nova Scotia counterpart, Stephen McNeil, expressing his opposition to the project as it stands.
The Liberal government in Charlottetown is concerned that the project will endanger the habitat and reproductive cycle of marine species, such as lobster, on which thousands of fishermen in the region depend.
For more than two hours on Friday, MPs from all parties in the PEI Legislature asked questions of Northern Pulp representatives.
Several officials have expressed concern about the rejection of bleaching agents in the Northumberland Strait for bleached kraft paper, such as toilet paper and paper towels that are produced at the Pictou County mill.
“We do not want to hurt your plant and we do not want to hurt our fishermen,” ex-provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac told the paper. “We want to keep eating our good lobster and use your [hygienic] paper afterwards,” he added, smirking.
The Liberal member, like many of his colleagues, said he was not very comfortable with the company’s arguments.
“There is no guarantee that [the effluent dump] will not hurt the fishery,” Progressive Conservative MP Colin LaVie, who is a critic of the official opposition on agriculture, said in his turn. and peaches.
The Northern Pulp Wastewater Project is scheduled to undergo the most cursory environmental assessment of the Nova Scotia government later in 2018.
MPs from Prince Edward Island are calling for a more comprehensive environmental assessment.