The blockade of a pulp mill in Nova Scotia continued on Tuesday with fisherman from the surrounding area of Pictou, N.S., saying they’ll do whatever it takes to stop a controversial waste pipe.
For the second day in a row, fishermen have successfully rebuffed a survey ship from leaving Boat Harbour in an attempt to chart a route for the planned effluent pipe, which would carry waste away from the Northern Pulp mill into the Northumberland Strait.
“We were hoping it wasn’t going to come to this, but apparently it is and we’re ready to do whatever we have to do,” said Darryl Bowen, 48, a fisherman from Caribou, N.S., taking part in the blockade.
“We’ll stop it at all costs.”
Last month, a survey vessel was guided back to shore by Bowen and other fishermen who fear that the waste pipe will critically harm the fishery between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
“Our livelihoods are at stake here. If they destroy the ecosystem of the Northumberland Strait, we’re done for generations,” Bowen said.
“They can pump Boat Harbour out, they can clean that. You can’t drain the Northumberland Strait.”
On Tuesday, the blockade was joined by fishermen from Pictou Landing First Nation, which borders on Boat Harbour.
Warren Francis says his band has been dealing with waste from the Northern Pulp Mill from his entire life.
The mill pumps 70 million litres of treated waste daily into lagoons on the edge of the reserve.
“Even our health issues on the reserve are pretty bad, like with breathing disorders and asthma, and I attribute that to Boat Harbour and the air quality that we’re getting right from the lagoon. Now they want to take it from our backyard and move it to our front yard,” Francis said.
Francis says all the fisherman in the area stand together in opposition to the pipe and are calling on the province to look after its people.
The lagoons contain nearly 50 years’ worth of toxic waste, which former Nova Scotia environment minister Iain Rankin has called one of the worst cases of environmental racism in Canada.
“Who is the government looking after?” he asked.
“Are they looking after corporations from across the world, or people from their own backyards?”
Under provincial legislation, the mill, which employs approximately 300 residents in the Pictou area, has until 2020 to replace its current wastewater treatment plant in Boat Harbour, and Premier Stephen McNeil has confirmed he is sticking with that deadline.
Paper Excellence, of Richmond, B.C., has said the mill’s employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline to the strait.
Bowen says the blockade will continue until the harbour freezes for the winter, at which point work will be stopped.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Silas Brown
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