The province of Nova Scotia says it needs more time and information to review Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent drainage plan, leaving the future of the mill still in question.
According to The Canadian Press, Environment Minister Margaret Miller says Northern Pulp needs to flesh out the proposal it submitted on February 7 with a “focus report” that would include more data on potential impact to marine life and the treated effluent’s impact on drinking water.
The remaining questions from the provincial government will be provided on April 24, and the mill would have up to a year to answer them.
Northern Pulp has been ordered by the province to stop diverting its untreated effluent through a treatment facility close to the Pictou Landing First Nations reserve and into Boat Harbour by January 2020 – meaning the mill may need to be idled if it takes the full year to provide the new focus report.
Northern Pulp’s proposed plan includes a new effluent treatment facility constructed on Northern Pulp property. A 15.5-kilometre water pipe would deliver treated effluent to Caribou Harbour.
The plan has been criticized by environmental and fisheries groups in Nova Scotia such as Friends of the Northumberland Strait, who say the new pipeline plan remains a threat not only to the environment, but also the livelihoods of the local fishermen.
Fishermen created a blockade of boats on the Northumberland Strait – where the new pipeline would pass through – for more than two months in the fall of 2018, preventing Northern Pulp’s survey boats from accessing the waters to complete research required for its environmental assessment application.