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Nova Scotia First Nation starts official countdown on Boat Harbour

Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill's plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018.
Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill's plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

A Nova Scotia First Nation is taking a pointedly direct approach to ensuring that a highly polluted waste water treatment facility on its land is shut down.

Under legislation passed in 2015, the provincial government has committed to closing the Boat Harbour facility by Jan. 31, 2020 – one year from this week – and the Pictou Landing First Nation plans to mark the beginning of an official countdown on Thursday.

The First Nation, which is near Pictou, N.S., has organized a “One Year Countdown” event, which is expected to include traditional drumming, dancing, prayers, smudge ceremony and speeches.

The waste water is mainly treated effluent from the Northern Pulp mill, where a proposed plan would see more than 62 million litres per day pumped directly into the Northumberland Strait once Boat Harbour is closed.

That decision has enraged local fishermen, who have staged large protests and prevented the mill’s seismic survey work on the Strait.

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READ MORE: ‘Stop it at all costs’: The blockade of Northern Pulp Mill continues

On Monday, Northern Pulp issued a statement saying the fishermen have agreed to comply with a court injunction that prohibits them from blocking seismic survey vessels hired by the mill.

The mill was granted an interim injunction by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge in December.

Northern Pulp now says it has reached an agreement with the protesters, saying it will allow the company’s work to proceed in the Strait, Pictou Harbour and Caribou Channel.

“Northern Pulp, and owner Paper Excellence, are pleased that the legal action by Northern Pulp has been resolved to Northern Pulp’s satisfaction through an agreement and the anticipated issuance by the court of a permanent injunction,” the company said in a statement.

The company declined to comment on the latest developments.

WATCH: Thousands gather to protest pulp mill in Pictou

Thousands gather to protest pulp mill in Pictou
Thousands gather to protest pulp mill in Pictou

In a brief statement, the fishermen said they accepted the judge’s decision and the pending issuance of a permanent injunction.

Northern Pulp is expected to return to court Tuesday to seek the long-term injunction.

The company is also expected to submit an environmental approval application to the provincial Environment Department later this week.

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The company has said the treated effluent it plans to pump into the Strait will meet federal regulations for emissions, but opponents say there’s a lack of scientific evidence regarding how the waste will affect the long-term health of the lucrative lobster and crab fisheries.

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