Demand Class 2 Assessment of Northern Pulp's proposal to dump effluent in Pictou Harbour
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This petition is in response to Northern Pulp’s request for its new Waste Water Treatment Facility and plan to continuously discharge large amounts (90 million litres per day) of treated effluent directly into the Northumberland Strait.
This proposed action will have an impact beyond Northern Nova Scotia; it will impact the communal Northumberland waters and the coastline of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. We share these waters and rely upon them for recreation, our economy and livelihoods, beaches, tourism and health.
The toxic effluent discharged by Northern Pulp into Boat Harbour has made the site an environmental scar. Unfortunately, over 55 years ago this decision was made and permitted by the Nova Scotia government. Now, we have an increased understanding of the science and the ripple impact this pollution has caused. We all know the current situation is unacceptable and would not be permitted in other regions of Canada or North America.
In making this decision regarding the effluent, it is imperative the Nova Scotia government take a strong stance and protect our environment, health, resources and other important sectors and drivers of our economy.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI rely upon and advertise beautiful beaches and sparkling warm waters to attract tourists. Locals enjoy these resources with their families and have property values attached to the water. Others, have livelihoods directly tied to the use of these waters and its resources. I am concerned about what this decision will mean for the quality of the water, sea life, the beaches, tourism, the economy, my family and our health.
It is important all avenues be considered for treating and discharging Northern Pulp’s effluent and that the most environmentally sound be selected. If the effluent is to be discharged into the beautiful Northumberland Strait, it must be treated to a standard that has a neutral impact on the waters and is safe for sea life and human use and consumption. If the current government environmental standards do not require the effluent to be treated to this level, then the government’s standards need to be updated, as they fall short of the standards expected by the people in 2017. We have this one chance to get it right.
I understand this environmental assessment has been fast tracked under a Class 1 process which does not require a review panel or public hearing prior to making a decision. However, I know that under section 38(1) of the Environment Act, the Minister has the discretion to require a review panel and public hearing in this matter. I call upon the Minister to use this discretion and appoint an independent review panel to ensure full public consultation and thorough and accurate information is considered.
Finally, when and if an appropriate plan is approved, it will require independent and transparent environmental monitoring and testing. Northern Pulp’s environmental track record and failure to stay within the existing standards is concerning. Third party oversight is a protection for both the company and the government from critics, and provides a level of comfort and builds trust with the public.
The community is already celebrating the long and overdue January 2020 closure date and remediation of Boat Harbour. What happened at Boat Harbour is nothing short of an environmental disaster. The community of Pictou County and beyond deserves proper and fair government oversight to ensure that the same mistake does not happen all over again.
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