Northern Pulp gets Boat Harbour extension to allow for hibernation
February 4, 2020
ABERCROMBIE, N.S. (From news reports) - Northern Pulp got the province's official blessing to continue using Boat Harbour for another three months.
According to a press release from Northern Pulp, the company received an order Jan. 29 from Nova Scotia's environment minister allowing the ongoing use of the Boat Harbour wastewater treatment plant until the end of April 2020.
"The short-term extension to use the Boat Harbour wastewater treatment facility will allow for a safe and environmentally sound hibernation of our facilities," Brian Baarda, CEO of Paper Excellence said. "Thus far, we have transferred almost all chemicals from the site to other operating facilities in Canada and the hibernation plan is on track to be completed by end of April."
Premier Stephen McNeil announced Dec. 20 that the province would not be granting an extension to the Boat Harbour Act to allow Northern Pulp to continue production. McNeil later consented to allow the continued use of Boat Harbour for the purpose of properly hibernating the mill. Paper Excellence has said they will continue with the environmental assessment process and hope to reopen the mill in the future.
The Department of Environment order states that no pulp effluent can be released; only warm boiler water which is generated from hibernation activities, and site run-off from the general mill yard and its landfill.
The order requires on-going testing of mill emissions including wastewater, solid waste, and air. It also requires the preparation of a wastewater disposal plan for handling site liquids after April 2020, and preparation of a site decommissioning plan that details cleanup and management of the pipeline, landfill, surface waters and various storage infrastructure.
The company said that the hibernation of the pulp mill during cold temperatures poses significant challenges to prevent pipes from freezing and to maintain adequate warmth during the wastewater treatment process until the end of winter. Monitoring and testing of wastewater is continuing throughout the hibernation of the mill.
The facility has now given layoff notice to most employees, however the company said some people will remain over the next six months as activity winds down into the fall of 2020.
In a statement, Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said that her band supports the environmentally safe hibernation of the mill and that the ministerial order ensures the protection of the environment and is a small step to the full cleanup of Boat Harbour.
"We do have some concerns regarding the leachate and we are working to get more information as it relates to that and what the plan will be for after April," Paul said. "But overall we are pleased to hear that there will be ongoing tests completed over the next few months and this offers a bit of extra reassurance for us."