To the Honorable Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change,
The legislation you and the Liberal government introduced last year, Bill C-69, which has passed the House of Commons and is currently with the Canadian Senate, contains important new measures to strengthen environmental protection and Indigenous participation.
The current new treatment facility proposal and associated environmental assessment submitted by Northern Pulp would have triggered a Federal Assessment under this new Act. The proposal includes a pipeline direct into the Northumberland Strait to dispose of an estimated 62 to 90 million liters of ‘treated’ effluent per day.
Yet on March 5, the Prime Minister suggested the environmental assessment was within the provincial jurisdiction.
The ‘triggers’ that would have directed Northern Pulp’s Environmental Approval submission to be subjected to a federal assessment relate to health, social, economic, and gender-based impacts and long-term impacts on Indigenous peoples.
This includes the health of the people potentially affected, directly or indirectly, through the consumption of contaminated seafood, air emissions (specifically PM 2.5), mental health, deleterious substances, etc.
Northern Pulps proposal includes burying the effluent pipe beneath the seabed for its entire length of 4.1 kilometers.
As the seabed of the Northumberland Strait and Caribou Harbour are federal crown land it is subject to requirements under section 67 of Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).
Section 67, which is pertinent to the Northern Pulp proposal, states as follows:
…..an authority must not carry out a project on federal lands, or exercise any power or perform any duty or function conferred on it under any Act of Parliament other than this Act that could permit a project to be carried out, in whole or in part, on federal lands, unless:
(a) The authority determines that the carrying out of the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects; or
(b) The authority determines that the carrying out of the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and the Governor in Council decides that those effects are justified in the circumstances under subsection 69(3).’
Based on the current CEAA 2012, this project is therefore subject to review by a federal authority in order to determine whether the carrying out of the project will cause significant adverse effects on the surrounding environment, or if any potential significant adverse effects are justifiable.
Why then have you failed to announce a federal assessment?
Also note, approximately 20% of the Canadian Senate, the government of Prince Edward Island, a working group of 3000 fishermen including residents of Pictou Landing First Nation, all the local MLAs, as well as thousands of concerned citizens, including several local physicians, are all requesting a federal assessment.
The new legislation the Liberal Government and you yourself introduced would have triggered an automatic federal assessment; and the current Act, also requires a federal assessment.
Why the delay? You must be aware of the conflict of interest our provincial government has, as the government is both the funder and regulator of the new effluent treatment facility. Our provincial government remains liable for damages caused by this effluent, including the inevitable damage this new effluent treatment proposal will cause.
The damages to Boat Harbour, as well as the western section of the Pictou Harbour, impounded by the Pictou Causeway, (built to encourage the mill to come here), will amount to many hundreds of millions of dollars.
This project will negatively affect fisheries not just in Nova Scotia, but also in New Brunswick and P.E.I., and could potentially amount to billions of dollars in damages.
If Northern Pulp is so confident in their new treatment facility, would it consider assuming the risk and associated cost to compensate the fishermen of three provinces, in the event the effluent causes the damage that fishermen expect it will?
Looking forward to your response,
John Collins, Loch Broom, N.S.
John Collins is a commercial fisherman who fishes out of Caribou Harbour.
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