NOVA SCOTIA (From news reports) -- Northern Pulp says it's committed to the province and wants to operate in Nova Scotia for the long term.
"We intend to complete an environmental assessment for our proposed effluent treatment facility and are in the process of reviewing the terms of reference," the company said in a statement Thursday.
"Our team is currently focused on supporting our employees, developing plans for a safe and environmentally responsible hibernation, and working with the government of Nova Scotia and stakeholders to determine next steps."
The company had earlier this week informed the government that it will continue with the environmental process.
"Since the company has chosen to carry on with the environmental assessment process, we are legally required to continue," provincial Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said in a news release Wednesday.
"I want to assure Nova Scotians that, as Premier McNeil has confirmed, the Boat Harbour Act will be enforced as of Jan. 31."
The kraft pulp mill at Abercrombie Point in Pictou County opened in 1967 and has been operated by several companies over the years. The existing government-owned Boat Harbour effluent treatment plant that has been in operation since the mill opened is legislated to close on Jan. 31, 2020, predicated on an agreement reached between the provincial Liberal government and Pictou Landing First Nation more than five years ago.
On Dec. 17, Wilson withheld approval of Northern Pulp's focus report in support of a proposed effluent treatment facility that would discharge treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait. Wilson said he concluded that more science-based evidence was needed to properly assess the potential risk to air, water, fish and human health.
The minister gave the company the opportunity to file an environmental assessment report, a more detailed report that could take up to two years to complete.
Three days later, Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed that he would not provide an extension of the Boat Harbour Act to allow the mill to keep operating with its existing effluent treatment plant.
Brian Baarda, chief executive of Paper Excellence Canada, made it clear at a Dec. 20 news conference in downtown Halifax that the company was closing the mill.
"This decision ensures the closure of Northern Pulp, the devastation of Nova Scotia's forest industry, the loss of 2,700 rural jobs and a significant impact to another 8,300 forestry jobs across Nova Scotia," Baarda said of the premier's decision not to extend the Boat Harbour Act.
The provincial Environment Department released draft terms of reference Wednesday for the environmental assessment report it requested from the company.
Thursday's statement from Paper Excellence Canada said since purchasing the mill in 2011, it has invested more than $70 million in people, technology, and processes to improve production and reduce its environmental impact.
"Despite recent setbacks, we remain committed to the province," the company statement said. "We believe that a prosperous economy and healthy environment can co-exist in Pictou County, just like it does in 89 other communities with pulp and paper mills across Canada."