A Nova Scotia pulp mill has been fined nearly $700 by the province after flunking a stack test in June, but the amount has the premier questioning whether it’s enough of a deterrent.
Environment Minister Iain Rankin said Tuesday that Northern Pulp received the $697.50 summary offence ticket for failing to comply with the terms of its industrial approval.
Rankin said the fine is part of a ministerial order requiring the mill to address the issues with its power boiler.
“They have been in and out of compliance. There were three tests out of the last 10 were they were not in compliance, and I believe the time is now to step it up to the next level,” said Rankin.
Rankin said the fine was appropriate, but he wouldn’t say whether he thought it was minuscule given the province is dealing with a large multi-national company. He said under current regulations, ministerial summary offence fines could run as high as $1,200.
Premier Stephen McNeil wasn’t as reluctant to question the amount.
“I think the first question, regardless of who it is, is $750 enough of a fine?” he said.
McNeil said he has asked the department to review its summary fines as a result.
“I think it’s an important time to look at those because there needs to be a deterrent. There needs to be a financial deterrent and I fully expect to hear from the minister and the department… Let them do their work and we’ll go from there.”
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The mill’s industrial approval requires it to operate within a measure of 150 milligrams per referenced cubic metre of particulate matter when stacks are tested, and the June test showed the power boiler tested at 224 milligrams.
Under the minister’s order, the company will also be required to post stack test results on its web site.
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The Northern Pulp mill, located in Abercrombie Point near Pictou, is to undergo a scheduled shutdown this month and the order also requires it to provide detailed reports about planned maintenance and how it plans to bring the power boiler into compliance.
Rankin said the order gives him the power to revoke the mill’s industrial permit. He was asked whether that was a possibility.
“If they don’t come into compliance with the order of course that’s a possibility,” he said.
The Environment Department issued directives and warnings for emissions from the mill’s power boiler that were over the limit in 2015 and 2016.
The mill was also fined $697.50 in June of last year, but that was withdrawn after it was revealed there were technical errors with the tests, according to the department.
Northern Pulp spent $35 million in 2015 on a new electrostatic precipitator to help deal with particulate in its stack.