Pannozzo: Proper EA for Northern Pulp Mill effluent thwarted

The diffuser for the new treatment system would be about here
Click on image to enlarge (from Google Earth)
Fishers in both Nova Scotia and PEI are concerned about impacts on lobster and other fisheries,
with good reason

UPDATE Feb 17, 2018: P.E.I. MLAs question N.S. pulp mill officials over wastewater plan CBC News, Feb 16

A legislative committee hearing in Charlottetown was packed to overflowing on Friday for a presentation about the potential impact of a wastewater treatment plant in Nova Scotia on P.E.I.’s fishing industry.


There continue to be unpleasant winds and waters of various sorts emanating from the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou.

Tim Bousquet writing in the Halifax Examiner cites investigative journalism by Linda Pannozzo as a followup of her earlier piece Dirty Dealing: Northern Pulp Mill and the province are set to roll the dice with Boat Harbour’s replacement, but a cleaner alternative exists
(Halifax Examiner, Nov 22, 2017) which was a comprehensive examination of the options for managing the effluent from the Northern Pulp mill.

Writes Bousquet about new info obtained by Pannozzo concerning the EA for the “proposed” effluent system:

In short, at least one provincial regulator had concerns about the effluent plan creating a “dead zone” in the Northumberland Strait and the decision to opt for a quicker Class 1 EA will mean that the subject is not given the attention it requires, which apparently, according to emails, would suit the consultants just fine since they don’t want to run into anything that would delay the implementation of the plan.

And, as Pannozzo explains, the claim that “nitrogen and phosphorus concentration and diffusion are being modelled [in the Environmental Assessment] and are, in fact, the main variable in locating the point of discharge,” is true. But as she gets into the weeds of how that modelling works in practice, Pannozzo finds that provincial regulators routinely adopt a different process — and really, a different scientific understanding — than do federal regulators, resulting in a less-vigorous protection of aquatic environments.

View The Northern Pulp Mill pollution plan may be an economic disaster in the making: Morning File, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

View the full piece by Pannozzo Dirty Dealing, Part 2: Wading Through the Quagmire of Northern Pulp’s Fast-tracked Environmental Assessment
Halifax Examiner, Feb 13, 2018 (currently behind a paywall, $10 to access the article is well worth it)

ADDENDUM Feb 14, 2018: Assessment of Northen Pulp mill’s effluent plan proper according to rules:deputy
Canadian Press, in Chronicle Herald, Feb 14, 2018

Nova Scotia’s deputy environment minister says her decision on the type of environmental assessment needed for a proposed effluent treatment plant for the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County was based on the province’s environmental regulations and the project description.

Also: Environment Department official defends speedier Northern Pulp assessment
By Paul Withers, CBC News Posted: Feb 14, 2018

Martin said it was her decision last July to apply a so-called Class 1 assessment to the project after Northern Pulp submitted a project description in April 2017.

Once a project is formally submitted, a Class 1 assessment limits the review to 50 days, with a 30-day period for public comment. The department could have applied a Class 2 assessment, which involves an independent panel and can last 275 days.

Critics have called on the company to build a “closed-loop” system to avoid any discharge into the strait, but Northern Pulp has said that is not practical.

Martin said the department expects Northern Pulp to submit alternative treatment options as part of its application, which is expected by this summer.

The CBC article cites Joan Baxter: “”At the moment, there is an unhealthy level of tension in Pictou County and it’s understandable people feel like they are being pitted against each other.”

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