THE CHRONICLE HERALD — Northern Pulp intends to pitch a redesigned effluent treatment plant early in the New Year.

The Pictou County kraft pulp mill idled in January in order to comply with the Boat Harbour Act, which mandated the closure of its effluent treatment plant.

Premier Stephen McNeil refused to extend the Boat Harbour Act to allow the mill to continue operating as it sought environmental approval for its controversial proposed replacement effluent treatment plant.

That project, which would have seen a new treatment plant built beside the mill at Abercrombie Point and that would have sent effluent via pipeline into the Northumberland Strait, was opposed by a coalition of fishermen, the Pictou Landing First Nation and local concerned citizens.

With the mill shuttered, Northern Pulp entered creditor protection last summer and has been kept afloat by loans from parent company Paper Excellence. Some 280 unionized workers at the mill were laid off.

In an affidavit filed Dec. 4 with the British Columbia Supreme Court, which is handling the creditor protection, mill manager Bruce Chapman states the mill is going to seek approval for a new effluent treatment plant redesigned to address some of the concerns of those who opposed the earlier plan.

“The (Environmental Liaison Committee) has had multiple meetings with stakeholders, retained a local engineering firm to provide technical guidance and support, and expects to complete its analysis and make a formal presentation to Northern Pulp in December 2020 regarding community concerns and potential solutions to address those concerns to include in a new Replacement ETF project (the “New Replacement ETF Project”) to re-start the Mill,” reads the affidavit.

“The Petitioners will attempt to re-engage with the Province in January 2021 to identify an environmental assessment process to seek approval for the New Replacement ETF Project.”

The affidavit states that the Pictou Landing First Nation declined an offer to participate in the environmental liaison committee but has been provided updates on the group’s progress.

A representative from the First Nation versed on the proposal could not be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

No details are provided in the affidavit regarding what changes were being considered for the effluent treatment plant that might make it more palatable.

Northern Pulp has budgeted $50,000 a month to pay KSH Engineering to develop a detailed design of the new treatment facility starting in January.

One source of contention was Northern Pulp’s plan to run the pipe out into the Northumberland Strait at Caribou, beside one of the region’s busiest fishing harbours.

A previous plan by the mill to run the pipe out along the bottom of Pictou Harbour had been abandoned after ice scouring was discovered on the seafloor along the proposed route.

Chapman’s affidavit was filed as part of an application that will go before the court on Friday to have creditor protection extended until April 30, 2021.

In it, Chapman states with the loans currently available from its parent company, Northern Pulp expects to remain solvent through until June.

During this time it also will seek to restart settlement negotiations regarding the provincial government’s liability for forcing the closure of Boat Harbour a decade before the company’s lease expires.

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