Nova Scotia’s Tidewater Pipe Impasse, continued (Apr 23, 2018)

Map with features on a map posted on a Northern Pulp website. “Our proposal is to construct an Effluent Treatment Facility on land at the mill property, and lay a pipeline on the bottom of Pictou Harbour…

It would be only 10 km or less, but many of the issues applying to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain get-Alberta-oil-to-tidewater pipeline – Environment, Jobs, First Nations, different provincial jurisdictions, a government/industry agenda backed up by EAs, real or perceived deadlines and firmly held, mutually incompatible desired outcomes by people directly affected apply also to “The Pipe“.

And like the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the government most directly involved seems frozen in time while the clock ticks, and any “solution” the government might devise, mostly to satisfy itself that it has addressed both sides of the issue, would involve a huge expenditure of public funds.

Todays chapter: public release of the letter the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association wrote to Nova Scotia MLAs asking them “to honestly consider what is at risk from Northern Pulp’s proposal [and] not to make another costly mistake.”

View OPINION: Fishermen ask MLAs to avoid another costly mistake with Northern Pulp effluent
by Ronald Heighton (President, Northumberland Fishermen’s Association) in the Chronicle Herald, Apr 23, 2018.

The letter:

“On behalf of fishermen throughout Nova Scotia, I am asking for your support to find a land-based solution to Northern Pulp’s waste disposal that does not put the fishing industry at risk. I ask you to seriously consider the risks associated with Northern Pulp’s proposed new treatment facility, that would discharge 70 million to 90 million litres of treated, yet still harmful, pulp effluent every day into the Northumberland Strait.

A federal government study recently concluded that even when meeting federal regulations, 70 per cent of pulp mills in Canada continue to have harmful effects on aquatic life and habitat, and 55 per cent are having harmful effects on the larger environment.

The Northumberland Strait is a rich and vital fishing ground. As Canada’s No. 1 seafood exporter, our province’s $2-billion seafood industry is built on the reputation of seafood harvested from clean, cold, pristine waters off our province’s rugged coastline. Our industry provides spinoff jobs in many sectors, and is vital to our coastal communities. We buy local, and our profits are spent locally.

From December to March, our working group, representing over 3,000 fishermen from Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick, along with Pictou Landing First Nation, met with Northern Pulp in the hope of finding a solution that was mutually beneficial to both industries.

To our surprise, mill officials insist that there is no fishing in the area of the pipe, despite being informed repeatedly that the area is fished for lobster, scallops, herring, mackerel, tuna and other species. Mill officials and their consultants provided no hard science on the impact on fisheries and fish habitat, yet insist that discharge into the Northumberland Strait is their only option.

Northern Pulp appears satisfied to have the fishing industry assume 100 per cent of the risk of their proposed new treatment facility. The indemnity agreement in place between the government and the mill holds Northern Pulp blameless for any damage caused to the environment or to other industries, leaving all risk on the backs of the fishermen and taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

We encourage you to look beyond Northern Pulp’s easy assurances that everything will be fine.

P.E.I. legislators were well informed and asked hard questions to Northern Pulp officials at a hearing before the standing committee on fisheries and agriculture. We recommend that you watch and listen to Northern Pulp’s responses and see how convincing you find them.

We have attached two fact sheets prepared by Friends of the Northumberland that provide additional information on the negative impact Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent pipe could have on the fisheries if it is permitted to proceed. We hope you will consider the science and the facts, and learn more about how much is at stake for the fishing industry, our coastal communities, and our province’s economy.

We thank you for your attention to this very important matter. It is not too late for the Nova Scotia government to avoid another costly mistake in dealing with pulp effluent. We hope you will support the fishermen’s call for No Pipe in the Northumberland Strait. We are happy to provide additional information to you or your caucus.

To avoid any misunderstanding, fishermen fully support the closure and cleanup of Boat Harbour by Jan. 30, 2020.”

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