Northern Pulp alleges its most recent industrial approval is an attempt by the provincial government to “impose conditions” that require the company to cease using Boat Harbour as an effluent treatment facility sooner than scheduled and render the mill unviable.
The information is contained in the company’s appeal of the industrial approval, released after a freedom of information request. Northern Pulp, the Pictou Landing First Nation and the Clean Pictou Air group all appealed the approval, issued earlier this year.
The new five-year approval calls for major reductions in the Abercrombie Point mill’s water consumption and waste-water volume over the life of the permit.
Air emissions are also expected to be greatly reduced over the five years and the company is required to do increased monitoring and reporting.
In its appeal, Northern Pulp said some of the conditions “are impossible to meet and/or are prohibitory rather than regulatory in nature,” while other provisions are “unrealistic or otherwise unreasonable.”
The company’s submission also includes communication with the Environment Department, noting that requests for meetings have been rejected and reminding the department about contractual obligations with respect to using Boat Harbour as a mill treatment site.
“Under the lease, as extended, Northern Pulp has the right to exclusive possession and occupation of the effluent treatment facility until 2030,” note the documents.
(During the last session at Province House, the government passed legislation that will close Boat Harbour by 2020 and calls for a plan for remediation. The legislation is handled by the
Internal Services Department.)
“While Northern Pulp has invested in upgrades at the mill, such equipment modifications will not achieve the requirements of the approval,” reads the appeal. “The approval, therefore, essentially prohibits Northern Pulp from operating the current mill.”
The mill is scheduled to install a $22-million recovery-boiler precipitator during its maintenance shutdown next month.
Company officials have said the device is expected to immediately reduce emissions around the plant.
Northern Pulp’s appeal also includes two consultant’s reports supporting the mill’s position.
The appeal from the Clean Pictou Air group centred on its view that the industrial approval “does not provide for the effective protection of the health and socio-economic welfare of its citizens and businesses as a result of ineffective monitoring of ambient air.”
The group’s document touches on how emissions from the mill have affected the local tourism economy and the day-to-day quality of life for residents.
It calls for the number of ambient air monitors to be increased to at least nine locations around Pictou County from three.
The appeal also calls for the Environment Department to “proactively audit Northern Pulp for compliance with the (industrial approval); create and publish
an administrative environmental penalty framework; (and) provide access to the public of any and
all relevant data such as, but not limited to, air emissions data.”
The grounds on which Pictou Landing based its appeal were redacted, as per freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation that protects information the government receives in confidence from a First Nation.
Environment Minister Randy Delorey has until June 9 to make a decision on the appeals.