Environment featured

John Collins to Premier Stephen McNeil: Don’t jeopardize our fisheries in the Northumberland Strait

Boat Harbour. Photo Twitter

Honorable Premier McNeil,

I understand the argument you make to an extent in your recent letter in response to the MLA’s of Pictou County.  

The MLAs’ letter was somewhat political, but in the third paragraph you simply point out, referencing Pictou Landing First Nation and Boat Harbour, that ‘such a facility would never be accepted today’.  This is what the people against the pipe going to the Strait have been saying all along.

In fact, it’s a major understatement. A mill of this type, due to the known harm from its air and water emissions, would never be built in any proximity to an urban area today, period. And quite simply, I blame the owners of the mill for the current situation.  

I actually commend you for the courage and determination to stand up for what’s right and sticking to the legislated closure as implemented by your government in the ‘Boat Harbour Act’.  For the mill to even promote a continuance of this level of environmental racism by asking for an extension is an insult to Pictou Landing First Nation, and First Nations Peoples in general.

You mention that Northern Pulp has had five years, but I believe they had a lot longer.  They should have realized when they purchased the mill that they would have to stop the flow to Boat Harbour, as it was going to be stopped years earlier on a number of occasions.  For the executives at the mill to be crying for an extension is absurd and another example of their incompetence.

They repeatedly have said ‘no pipe=no mill’ and go as far to point to an economic feasibility study stating that the current product is by far the most profitable. No wonder! It’s the most environmentally damaging. The emissions from this mill are the absolute worst in the country.

The new suggestion for ‘treated’ effluent to be discharged into the heart of the largest fishing port in Northern Nova Scotia and the gateway into Nova Scotia from PEI, a tourist hub, bird sanctuary and the very heart of our lobster and herring bottom in the Northumberland Strait, is a prime example of how incompetent the mills executives are.  

They want the residents and fishermen to absorb this, take all the risk, etc.  There are literally dozens of studies written by hundreds of scientists stating that even with today’s standards for mills’ effluent, the receiving waters are negatively affected.

Provincial/Federal assessment, regardless, this current plan is outrageous and would be a disgrace for our Province. Caribou Harbour would be the next Boat Harbour; the mills receiving water study is sub-standard and completely inaccurate.

With almost 20% of Canadian senators, thousands of concerned citizens and a working group of three thousand fishermen, as well as the government of P.E.I, all calling for a Federal Environmental Assessment, I would believe you when you say you care about the environment and the people of Pictou County if you put the assessment to the Federal government.

Instead of jeopardizing our fishery with this preposterous new treatment facility and pipe to the Strait, use our tax dollars to convert the mill to one using a mechanical process and hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent, providing the ability of a closed loop system. This approach would mean less profits, but also less environmental harm. This would not just eliminate the need for an effluent discharge, but would result in less air emissions as well.

Instead of sending the bulk of the profits overseas in the form of bulk pulp via the Port of Halifax, manufacture the products right here in Pictou County, the area that’s absorbing the pollution.

Thanks again, John Collins Loch Broom, N.S.


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  1. Bang on. Well written. I cannot for the life of me believe that anyone could think discharging effluent into prime fishing grounds is a reasonable thing to do in this day and age. Have we not learned anything from our past mistakes. It is time to have NP put up or shut down. It is either the environment or the economics. At some point, politicians have to say which side of the fence they are on. It’s time for Nova Scotia to move towards the new economy not revert backwards.

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