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Province of Nova Scotia releases final terms of reference for Northern Pulp

The Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point, N.S., is viewed from Pictou, N.S., Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

On Tuesday, the province of Nova Scotia has released its final terms of reference for an environmental assessment report for the now-closed Boat Harbour effluent treatment plant.

According to the terms of reference report, when a company registers its project for an environmental assessment, government’s expectation is that the company will provide a complete and detailed assessment of the project’s potential risks and related efforts to minimize those risks.

READ MORE: COVID-19 and Northern Pulp closure a ‘perfect storm’ for province’s forestry sector

“This document provides a road map for the company to follow as it works to submit an environmental assessment report,” said Environment Minister Gordon Wilson.

“Once that report has been submitted, I am open to considering whether an environmental assessment panel should be appointed.”

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The Northern Mill owned by Paper Excellence in Pictou County, which has been operating since 1967, has faced consistent criticism for its poor environmental record and has been dumping treated effluent into a series of lagoons located near First Nations land for decades.

After the province refused to provide Northern Pulp with an extension to operate past Jan. 31, the mill was forced to close.

READ MORE: After Northern Pulp mill closure, anxiety mounts in rural N.S. communities dependent on forestry

Northern Pulp now has up to two years to submit the report on its proposed new effluent treatment plant.

The company is proposing a plan to develop a new effluent (wastewater) treatment facility (ETF) constructed on Northern Pulp property that would pipe treated waste water into the Northumberland Strait.

“We will take the necessary time to thoroughly review, understand, and seek clarity from Nova Scotia Environment where needed, and determine if the terms of reference provide a workable path forward,” said Graham Kissack, vice-president of Environment, Health and Safety at Paper Excellence Canada in a press release.

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The company shut down the power boiler on April 15th and stopped discharging effluent into the Boat Harbour ETF on April 26th, but hopes to re-start it with a new proposal.

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“The modernization and restart of Northern Pulp would re-establish more than 300 well-paying direct jobs in Pictou County and more than 2,500 forestry sector jobs throughout the province,” the company stated.

The terms of reference are available online and can be read here.

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