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The NDP Government and the 2011 Northern Pulp Industrial Approval

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
The NDP Government and the 2011 Northern Pulp Industrial Approval

This blog should be read with the earlier HMC article: Heat Turns Up on Northern Pulp

 

The NDP swept into government June 2009, taking all 3 Pictou County seats.The new government inherited a study in progress by consultants looking at the various options of what to do with the facility.

The consultants, AMEC, found that that even with modifications the existing Boat Harbour Treatment Facility would never be able to meet current emission standards for kraft pulp mills in North America.

The AMEC study authors say, “It is assumed this project is attempting to develop an economic future of 25 years of more for the mill.” This they said would require replacement of the Boat Harbour Facility with a system built on mill owned property. [The Nova Scotia government owns and is ultimately responsible for the existing facility- a gift taxpayers bestowed on the original owners of the mill.]

The consultants also looked at the status quo alternative: “An Aerated Stabilization Basin process [what the Boat Harbour Facility is] would be a reasonable choice only if the objective was simply to prolong the life of the mill for another 5-10 years.” In other words, from when that was written, keep the existing band aid on and let the mill die somewhere in the range of between 2012 and 2020.

The Boat Harbour study was completed in 2010, less than a year into the new government's mandate.

To date there are no documents available on the deliberations of that government and Department of Environment staff. But the imprint of the Boat Harbour study is very clearly visible in the 2011 Northern Pulp Industrial Approval [IA], with it's term due to end in April 2014.

The reduction requirements set out in the IA were obviously designed to be at least moving the mill in the direction strongly recommended by the consultants. Here are the highlights of the IA that deal with reducing water borne emissions.

  • Northern Pulp was required to do a formal waste water characterization study to assess how their system rated for meeting limits on a number of chemical and biological parameters.

  • Two of those in particular have figured in current discussions about the mill: it's water use and COD rates. Water use shows how much the system depends on brute force flushing- and this mill is either the worst or among the worst in Canada, according to figures in the Boat Harbour study. COD (chemical oxygen demand) is a general measure of pollution in the waste water. The government says that COD levels for this mill are 4 times the AVERAGE for Canadian kraft pulp mills.

  • The IA required that results of the comprehensive waste water study had to be submitted to the Department of Environment by June 2012

  • “In the event the system cannot meet the specified limits, a plan shall be implemented to bring the mill into compliance by the end of the Approval term.” (April 2014)

  • The mill was required to have a monitoring and reporting system set out in the IA for parameters to be tested, and the frequency of the reporting.

 

 

So What Happened ?

 

  • For the two highest profile waste water parameters that continue to feature in discussions, and for which there is some data available, Northern Pulp has today still not met, or even come close to meeting, the 2011 requirements.... let alone did they meet them in 2012 as required, or by the 'last chance' given them of April 2014.

  • Nor is there any evidence that when they did not meet standards as required in June 2012, that they gave the required plan for how they would come into compliance by 2014, or ever.

  • All the indications are that the company did not even meet the clear 2011 requirements for monitoring and reporting waste water characteristics. Current Liberal government Cabinet briefing notes obtained through Freedom of Information speak of having only 10 year old waste water emissions data from the AMEC Boat Harbour study.

 

SUMMARY: The NDP government was the first to formalize significant higher emission standards for the Pictou pulp mill, but there was virtually no enforcement of the requirements.

 

See also:

What Is Northern Pulp Mills Plan ?

 


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