Northern Pulp will shutdown its Pictou County paper mill on May 30 in order to install equipment to meet air pollution reductions demanded by the Nova Scotia government.

The shutdown is an admission the company will not meet an end of May air pollution reduction required in its industrial approval.

“Its a big job.There’s a lot to do,” says Bruce Chapman, general manager of the mill.

The mill is a beehive of activity as crews work to assemble the precipitator which can be described as a large eloctrostatically charged plate that will capture fine particulate emerging from smoke stacks.

Northern Pulp will install the precipitator after a 15 day maintenance shut down completes the work needed to connect the device to ductwork.

The company says the planned maintenance shut down will start May 30, cost $10 million and employ an additional 600 people.

Chapman is reluctant to say when the job the precipitator will be operational.

“We will go down on May 30 and we are committed not to restart, we will finish the work. We will restart when the precipitator is ready,” says Chapman.

“That is our commitment to the people of Pictou County.

Precipitator challenges

The $22 million precipitator project has had challenges.

In addition to delays caused by winter storms, the U.S. supplier Clyde Bergmann Group backed out of its contract to install the precipitaitor. That forced the mill to take over the job.

Northern Pulp meanwhile is appealing the Nova Scotia Government industrial approval imposing new environmental standards including the air pollution reduction expected from the precipitator.

The mill objects to other elements in the industrial approval regarding its use and discharge of water.

Nova Scotia  Environment Minister Randy Delorey says the shut down keeps the mill compliant.

“The industrial approval parameters is really about the emissions that they would be putting out, so I would expect if they are not polluting they would be meeting the terms and conditions of the industrial approval at that time,” Delorey told CBC News.

During the shut down, Northern Pulp’s 300 unionized workforce will remain on the job.

The company says it will continue to buy wood chips from Nova Scotia saw mills.