Save The Northumberland Strait - Protect our Fisheries, our Tourism and our Health
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Today we have dozens of rivers that dump into the Northumberland Strait not counting tributaries. The Strait is the main passage for hundreds of marine species including Waterfowl. It is a place for them to feed, rest and live. It is also home to a very valuable shellfish industry. However, all this is at major risk with the proposed 90 million litres of effluent to be pumped into the Strait a day. The effluent at the outflow of the pipe is going to come out at 25c in the Winter and 37c in the summer!! (The natural water temps of the Strait reaches 15C in the summer ) These temps will absolutely change the diversity and make up of this sensitive and important marine ecosystem. This will increase the overall temperatures of the Strait over time due to the high volume of effluent being pumped a day.
The Effluent is going to be fresh water. The Strait is comprised of salt water and species that require a specific level of salinity. At a rate of 70-90 Million litres a day, the salinity of the Strait will change as the waste continues to accumulate over time. This will impact Wetlands, all species that use the Strait as well as the food sources within.
The makeup of the toxic chemicals that will be part of the effluent will also pose major threat to marine life. The communications officer for Northern Pulp has said a few times that the current infrastructure of the mill cannot handle the new proposed effluent makeup because it will be to corrosive to their internal setup and that pumping it into the Strait is the most economical option for the Mill. However, there are many scientific documents that show the risk and harm that will come from this.
Furthermore, the effluent would contain chlorines, dioxins, metals, among other toxic constituents and will contain 935kg of solid materials per day. All of these can bioaccumulate, having catastrophic effects on marine life. Laboratory studies using individual chlorinated organic compounds that are commonly discharged from bleached pulp mills have demonstrated effects such as deformities, as well as embryonic and larval mortalities in fish. These chronic effects will jeopardize the future of many fish species and damage the integrity of the ecosystem. It is documented that Dioxins contaminate fish and shellfish because fish act like sponges for Dioxins, accumulating them at 25,000-50,000 times the concentrations present in their environment. It also is reported that fish species 250 miles away from the source have been impacted.
The Strait already has several large dead zones due to nutrient overloading from many sources. It cannot handle any additional pressures. Boat Harbour, once a very healthy estuary and wetlands is an official environmental disaster due to the mills current waste process.
Finally, this waste proposal increases our Health risks. The community of PLFN have suffered more than most from the Boat Harbour pollution via water and air. The surrounding communities also have felt the negative impacts due to the air quality. The new waste proposal doesn’t address the air pollution because it shows a plan to burn contaminated sludge in power boiler which raises new threats to air quality. The waste sludge contains toxins which would be released through the stacks of the mill’s power boiler. The proposal is to "dewater the sludge prior to mixing it with bark and other woodwaste for combustion in the mill's power boiler." This is the same power boiler that is currently and repeatedly failing stack emissions tests. Problems with air quality from mill emissions have been documented for years. Lack of appropriate monitoring and enforcement already puts area residents at risk. Now, Northern Pulp is considering adding sludge containing toxins to the combustion mix, increasing health risks from NP’s air emission
The NS Government is mandating that the current Boat Harbour waste process be stopped by 2020 and cleaned up. However, the option Northern Pulp came up with is to dump it into the Northumberland Strait! The NS Government is supporting this and is ok with a Class 1 Environmental Assessment. This is nothing more than a 50 day review and some public consultations. The provincial government is supporting this since they have an Indemnity Agreement with Northern Pulp. We need Federal involvement and a full Environmental Assessment completed to ensure that the proper scientific testing is done and risks highlighted.
These are only a few points of a concern from a very long list that this pipe will cause. A final decision on this pipe proposal is going to be made by the NS Government and Northern Pulp in December 2019. We are running out of time for important groups to provide their input on this.
You can help by submitting your concerns to your local MLA's and to the Environmental Assessment https://novascotia.ca/nse/ea/comments.asp
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