The company on Thursday released preliminary details of facility upgrades, including a new effluent treatment system, two months after submitting a plan to the provincial Department of the Environment for approval. Graham Kissack, vice president of Northern Pulp’s parent company, Paper Excellence, has pledged to reduce water consumption, reduce the operation’s carbon footprint and eliminate the sulphurous odors emitted by the plant. paste for several decades in previous operations.
Under the new plan, the treated effluent from the plant would be dumped directly into Pictou harbor. Last month, after being briefed by factory officials, Pictou town mayor Jim Ryan said the new plan was “unacceptable”.
The potential impact of pumping treated waste into the port will be investigated by an environmental consultant, Kissack said in a press conference broadcast live Thursday. The exact point of discharge into the port will also be determined by the consultant, taking into account, among other factors, water flow and vessel movement.
He said Northern Pulp’s new plan was developed after consultation with surrounding community members and stakeholders over the past year.
“We heard pretty clearly from the community that we weren’t doing a good enough job, that relationships weren’t strong, that there was a lack of trust, that there was a lack of respect in management. and really a lack of transparency in what we were doing, ”Kissack said. “So we have to do better in this regard. “
Financing still under construction
The plant, which produced kraft pulp used in things like paper towels, has been in hibernation since January 2020, when its old effluent treatment system at Boat Harbor was shut down by provincial legislation.
Northern Pulp proposed an alternative system that would have driven the treated effluent 14 kilometers from the plant to a discharge point in the Northumberland Strait. This plan, priced at $ 120 million, did not pass the environmental assessment.
The mill entered into creditor protection several months after it closed last year. Kissack said the company was now in a “very different” position, but couldn’t say how it would pay for the $ 350 million upgrades.
“We are still working on all the plans regarding the financing of the new site and it will still take time,” said Kissack.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving announced Thursday that the plant’s proposal will undergo a Class 2 environmental assessment, which is more stringent and takes longer than an assessment class 1.
In a press release, Irving said the designation was made because “the changes described in the company’s project description would make the plant a significantly different facility from what was previously operating there.”
The whole process could take several years. Northern Pulp is targeting 2023 to begin construction.
Consultation with Pictou Landing First Nation
Northern Pulp’s previous proposal met with stiff opposition from fishermen, environmentalists, municipal officials and the Pictou Landing First Nation.
Pictou Landing chief Andrea Paul did not respond to CBC’s request for comment on the new plan. She posted on her Facebook page that she had received updates from the company, but had not met anyone from the factory “for quite some time.”
“I will be meeting with my counsel, my legal and engineering firm next week to review this information,” she wrote.
“Just to explain – consultation is a requirement. The sponsor should consult PLFN. It is not because they are doing all of this in good faith. “
Northern Pulp’s Dale Paterson said the company is trying to improve its relationship with Paul and his community.
“We keep Chef Andrea apprised of issues as we move forward. We didn’t have a lot of detailed discussions with Chef Andrea. We will continue to reach out, we will continue to strive to reconcile our differences and have fruitful discussions with Chief Andrea and PLFN, ”said Paterson.