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Stick to the facts, activist tells Northern Pulp supporters

by Robert Devet

Matt Gunning, one of the founders of the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill facebook group, takes issue with statements made by some of the mill's supporters.
Matt Gunning, one of the founders of the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill facebook group, takes issue with statements made by some of the mill's supporters.

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - The Northern Pulp mill in Pictou doesn't like the conditions contained in the new Industrial Approval issued by the province's Department of Environment.

That Industrial Approval, issued in January of this year, requires Northern Pulp to substantially reduce emissions, water usage and waste water by 2020.

The mill has been vocal in its opposition. It is appealing the Industrial Approval, and some businesses have spoken out in support of the mill.

For the mill and its supporters to fight back is fine, says Matt Gunning, one of the founders of the Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill facebook group. But it should stick to the facts, he says. And back up those facts with sources.

Gunning is particularly concerned about a form letter and fact sheet circulated by the Forest Product Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS) that was obtained by the Halifax Media Co-op.

The letter talks about the need to reduce bureaucratic red tape so that the mill can operate at a level playing field. The new Industrial Approval will put the mill out of business, and all its suppliers as well, the letter argues.

A fact sheet made accompanying the letter suggests that conditions the Department of Environment imposed by the Industrial Approval are stricter than exist in any other North American jurisdictions.

Reductions of waste water production are unreasonable and could even make the smell get worse, FPANS warns. Air emission constraints are also an issue. Increased testing is unnecessary.

Gunning doesn't believe the fact sheet contains many facts.

“You should be suspicious any time you see a so called fact sheet, but those facts are not sourced to independent research,” he tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “You can't believe everything you read.”

His group has written a detailed rebuttal of the claims made by FPANS. We link to it at the bottom of this story.

Gunning doesn't beat around the bush when asked about the veiled threats in the FPANS letter that the Industrial Approval will put the mill out of business.

“Everybody in the community is worried about that sort of thing,” says Gunning.

“The community has said we appreciate that our friends and neighbours work at the mill. But we also have to appreciate that we all have to work and live here, and co-exist, in the same way that other pulp mills have been able to co-exist within their community.

“It is a fair request that the place is cleaned up. We are just asking that their car get pulled over and that they get a fresh Motor Vehicle Inspection,” says Gunning, who sells cars for a living.

It all boils down to accountability, Gunning believes.

“Through this present Industrial Approval the mill has to become accountable to the province. It needs to operate in a sustainable fashion, both environmentally and financially. It doesn't go as far as we feel it should, but it certainly is a step in the right direction,” says Gunning

“Now what also needs to happen is that the province become accountable to the people. The previous Industrial Approval, as weak as it was, would have had some merit if only anything in it had been enforced.”

“We don't expect the mill to become a state of the art facility overnight, but we have to see some forward movement.”

Follow Robert DeVet on Twitter

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Topics: Environment
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Comments

N Pulp just doing what it always has

Northern Pulp is simply carrying on business as usual -- objecting to any sort of oversight and loss of total control of its messaging. This is a business that has operated for fifty years without any 'interference' from environmental concerns and they want to keep it that way. Meanwhile, people in Pictou Landing have put up with the conversion of a beautiful estuary into a stinking sludge pit which releases the equivalent of ten olympic-sized swimming pools' worth of toxic brown effluent into the Northumberland Strait EVERY DAY.

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