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 a main passage for our a lot of marine species including Waterfowl. It is a place for them to feed, rest and live. 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 other obvious threat to the Strait is the colour of the water will change. The effluent due to its makeup will change the colour at the water at the outflow of the pipe which is positioned a few kms offshore and directly into the Strait. At millions of litres a day, this will impact a very large area and ultimately change the natural state of the ecosystem.
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. The NS Government is mandating that it 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. Our wetlands and surrounding marine habitat are not the only things at risk here. Atlantic Salmon, Trout, Herring, Gasperaux, Smelt, Eels, Whales, Atlantic dolphins, Tuna, Mackerel, Striped Bass, etc etc etc all will be impacted by high water temps, toxic chemicals, changes in salinty and water clarity.
A final decision on this pipe proposal is going to be made by the NS Government and Northern Pulp by July We are running out of time for important groups to provide their input on this.
Could we please count on you to request a full environmental assessment to ensure the proper testing and studies are completed to protect the Northumberland Strait? A lot is at stake here and once it starts, the damage will be irreversible.
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