Reaction has been mixed after the province eased several compliance items within Northern Pulp’s appeal of its industrial approval.
The company followed the provinces’ decision on Feb. 8 by announcing on Feb. 9 that it notified the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia that it was withdrawing the appeal of its industrial approval.
Environment Minister Margaret Miller said the outstanding items related to the mill’s water use.
During a conference call with government ministers last Thursday, she said both sides found common ground to achieve an industrial approval agreeable to the province and the mill.
“We’re not going to make everybody happy,” she said. “We came to a compromise. I don’t think they got everything they wanted.”
She said the new limits remain lower than those in the mill’s 2011 approval.
Members of the Clean the Mill group criticized how the province altered its original demands on water use and effluent levels.
“Essentially, the government caved,” Dave Gunning said. “All we’ve ever asked is for this mill to operate within the standards of other mills in the country. All we want is a safe community.”
The province’s most recent approval for the mill in January 2015 was for five years and contained more strict levels for emissions, waste effluent and water use. At the time, Northern Pulp general manager Bruce Chapman said the provisions were unacceptable and jeopardized the mill’s long-term viability, but in a company news release he said the most recent changes prompted it to withdraw its appeal.
The revised terms require Northern Pulp to reach a maximum daily average water consumption rate of 92,310 cubic metres by January 30, 2020 and not exceed 80,000 cubic metres per day by January 30, 2018 and 70,000 cubic metres per day by January 30, 2020.
The mill must also retain the services of a qualified third-party professional engineer to determine the impacts of water reduction projects on the quality of the effluent entering and being discharged from the effluent treatment system and conduct an assessment of total reduced sulphur levels in wastewater which compares to current emissions to performance objectives by June 15, and submit an annual report of wastewater total reduced sulphur loading results to the department by June 30 each year
“With this industrial approval now in place, we can turn our focus to the important issue of a new effluent treatment facility and the closure of Boat Harbour,” Dave Kerr, VP of Operations with Paper Excellence Canada states. “We look forward to working with Nova Scotia Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal, Nova Scotia Natural Resources, other federal and provincial agencies and Pictou Landing First Nation to ensure that the remediation of Boat Harbour starts as soon as possible.”
Premier Stephen McNeil said the province remains determined to replace Boat Harbour with a treatment facility.