CBC News — Premier Stephen McNeil says he has “a responsibility to look at all possibilities” if the company that operates the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, N.S., can present an environmentally-sustainable plan for a new treatment facility.

Legislation passed by McNeil’s government in 2015 says the effluent treatment lagoons the mill uses in Boat Harbour must be closed by Jan. 31, 2020, but the company still doesn’t have approval to begin construction on a replacement site.

According to a report by CBC News, in March, then-environment minister Margaret Miller said she didn’t have enough information from the company about the project, which would also include a pipe to the Northumberland Strait, to allow it to proceed. Northern Pulp was ordered to produce a focus report to address shortcomings Miller identified, work the company has up to a year to complete.

But McNeil said that year, as well as the company’s own projection that it would be at least the summer of 2021 before it could have a new treatment site in place, are “the extremes.” He said it would be up to the company to provide a proposal showing it can meet the province’s environmental requirements and create “a path forward.”

“It took them a while to get at it, but they are really working hard now to present something to the regulator and at that point, we can assess what our path is,” McNeil said.

Premier Stephen McNeil says it’s up to Northern Pulp to show it can build a new treatment facility that meets all the province’s environmental requirements. (CBC)

“If [Northern Pulp] can provide something that makes sense, that they can present to the community, that they can present to government that gets a permit, then I believe I have a responsibility to look at all possibilities as the premier.”

McNeil noted that while mill officials continue to go through the provincial process, there is also a federal environmental assessment of the province’s Boat Harbour cleanup project happening and that will “continue to push that cleanup out quite a ways.”

Federal officials announced earlier this year they would review the project and it’s expected that process could take up to a year. The current estimates from the provincial government put the start of the cleanup project at sometime in 2021.

See more HERE.