Owners of a Northern Pulp paper mills in Pictou, N.S. are looking for a one-year extension of the provincial law to shut down mills waste water in January 2020.
At a press conference in Halifax, Paper Excellence officials said the company is committed to repairing the legacy of five decades of pollution. However, the company claims that it needs more time to build a new $ 130 million wastewater treatment plant to replace existing facilities in the port, N.S.
The Ship Harbor Act was approved in 2015 by the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia and requires that the existing facility expire on 31 January 2020 – a year from today. This step came after pressure from the Pictou Landing First Nation, which is adjacent to the storage lagoons used for wastewater treatment.
The lagoons contain almost 50 years of toxic waste and was called one of the worst cases of environmental racism in Canada.
But Stephen McNeil, President of Nova Scotia, is not a company's request.
"The deadline is the deadline," he told journalists Thursday.
The company says it will not run a mill without its extension – but does not say that it is ready to shut down permanently.
"We will not operate illegally, but we believe we will get there," said papermaker Kathy Cloutier.
McNeil, for some time, seemed ready to shut down the northern pulp.
"The question would be when the company should stop."
McNeil says the province is investigating the worst case scenario in terms of its commitments, the state of northern pulp and other sawmill, employee pension plans, and alternative wood chip markets purchased by Northern Pulp.
"We're doing that," he said.
Paper Excellence says it will begin building a new water treatment plant once it has regulatory approval – even without extensions.
The mill future and the way it handles 75 million liters of wastewater every day is the subject of intense debate in the northern part of Nova Scotia, especially in the Pictou region, where it has been running a mill since 1967.
After closure of the port of harbor, the company proposes to build, operate and operate an active sludge system next to the Northern Pulp mill with treated exhaust gas discharged through the diffusion pipe into the Northumberland Valley at Caribou, N.S.
A quarter of the press conference coincided with Northern Pulp, which submitted its environmental assessment to Nova Scotia. The rating will be published in one week.
The proposal will be submitted to a provincial 1st class review that lasts approximately 50 days.
"The federal government is still considering a far more extensive revision at the request of the first peoples and neighboring provinces of Prince Edward Island,
Fishermen claim that the proposed drainage pipe damages lucrative lobster fishing in the area and introduced blockades to stop exploration vessels operating on the pipeline route. Earlier this week, North Pulp issued a statement saying that fishermen agreed to comply with a court order prohibiting them from blocking their vessels.
The company claims that the system will meet federal standards and processed pulp waste is discharged into fresh and salt water elsewhere.
Robin Wilmer, owner of Elmsdale Lumber, says that the fate of northern pulp will affect the entire forest industry. The saws send bark and chips to the mill.
"No miller, no mills, a farmer will lose income from wood, it's a heavily integrated industry from Yarmouth to Sydney," said Wilmer
He says in the Pictou region he understands frustration over the pollution from the mill, but says the company deserves more time.
"The perfection of paper is only a few years, the other four previous owners have left a bad taste in everyone's mouth," he says.
"We have to give them a chance."
Durney Nicholas is a fisherman from Pictou Landing First Nation. He came to a press conference and was not convinced.
"They always say," Give me more time, "but enough is enough," he said.
On Thursday, more than 500 people gathered at Pictou Landing First Nato at the Pictou Landing First Nato gym, which bounced back to the one-year countdown after a decade-long shuttle facility.
The ceremony included drumming and dancing, students read speeches, and people signed a statement of support to meet the current deadline.
"The date is not the date, the date is the date," said Andrea Paul, the head of the journalist.
"We have a year left and the shipyard will not be used as wastewater. We are very excited."
Paul was emotional when she turned to the crowd and talked about the link of the Ship Harbor and what was happening to the environment.
"They took our right to fish, they took away our right to survive, they took our health."
A confirmation of the memory wall at the back of the room, a display of names and pictures of members of the community who are not alive today to see this day, Paul said, it would be a sacrificial day when the community gathered around a ship's port in one year to stop flowing out.
"What a strong day it will be," she said. "The next year will be a beautiful day."