Chief Paul said that she expected to see Northern Pulp’s winterization plan this week but was advised that while Northern Pulp had submitted something to the province it was not what the province was expecting. She has yet to see any details.
“I’m very frustrated”, she said. “The community is planning a ceremony on Jan. 31, 2020 to mark the start of the remediation of Boat Harbour and we are not sure what is happening. I don’t know what to tell them.”
Chief Andrea Paul said on Tuesday that Pictou Landing First Nation has not agreed to allow Northern Pulp to keep using the Boat Harbour treatment facility after Jan. 31, 2020 and she is not sure what is happening with Northern Pulp’s plans to winterize the mill.
Last week, Northern Pulp announced it would put the mill into hibernation so that it could be restarted if it receives environmental approval for a new effluent treatment facility to replace the one at Boat Harbour.
On Jan. 12, Northern Pulp also announced that only the wood waste boiler will continue to provide heat for the facility to protect against freeze and enable cleanup of the process equipment.
In addition, the company said it will focus on the removal of chemicals, pulp, and wood fibre from mill storage tanks, piping, and wood yards to prepare the facility for its indefinite closure.
According to Chief Andrea Paul, she and council spoke with a representative of the province last Thursday and were advised that Northern Pulp had asked to operate the power boiler until the end of April.
Paul said the province expected a plan from Northern Pulp the following week with details of the winterizing process.
“The representative told us that running the power boiler will mean discharging some water into Boat Harbour but no pulp will be produced,” Paul said in a media release. “We were not consulted about it.”
“Of course, the community is disappointed,” Paul added. “We were expecting a complete shutdown of the Boat Harbour treatment facility. Northern Pulp could have started draining the pipes weeks ago in order to complete the work before Jan. 31 and avoid the need to heat the mill after that.”
Premier Stephen McNeil said in a press conference on Tuesday regarding the mill that the pipe has been an issue.
“We couldn’t do anything with the pipe until the 31st, so while we are in this position, we have this pipe that we as the province are dealing with, it allows us to put this facility basically dormant and allows us to control the environmental impact,” McNeil said.
He explained that what will be coming out of the mill will be anything that is currently in that system.
“This boiler flushing will actually help us deal with the issue of the pipes sooner in a more contained way and will allow us to disconnect that pipe faster than we would otherwise,” said McNeil.
“It’s no different than how we would winterize a cottage. We have to flush all of the things out of it.”
McNeil said that the site contains a number of products that have to be removed, such as pulp, debris and other chemicals.
He said what Chief Paul is looking for is the “detailed pieces” that are still being talked about with the Department of Environment and Northern Pulp, such as what will be done with the leachate, and how the cells containing contaminated water will be capped off.
“We are going to have people on-site monitoring that because for us, we need to continue to make sure we know what’s going on in that pipe, because we’ve already done assessments of what’s in Boat Harbour,” said McNeil. “We need to make sure nothing new is entering that system.”
McNeil’s message to the First Nations is that there will be no new effluent into Boat Harbour as of Jan. 31.
“My commitment to them is to continue to clean up Boat Harbour,” he said.
“The first step of that is ensuring that we clean out that pipe and by allowing us to do that we will be able to disconnect that pipe quicker than we had originally planned and will forever ensure that no one will be able to use that pipe to enter back into Boat Harbour.”