Irving pulp mill exceeds pollution limits

The Irving pulp-and-paper mill at the Reversing Falls in Saint John has exceeded sulphur dioxide emission limits for the last four years, according to figures from the New Brunswick Environment Department.

The Irving Pulp and Paper Mill at the Reversing Falls in Saint John hasexceeded sulphur dioxide emission limits for the last four years, according to figures fromNew Brunswick'sEnvironment Department.

Provincial laws limit the amount of sulphur dioxide that Irving is allowed to send into the atmosphere every year. The chemical can cause breathing and health problems, and contributes to acid rain.

The plant is supposed tokeep its emissions under3,000 tonnes per year, but that limit hasbeen exceeded by almost 500 tonnes annually since 2002.

Mike Cormier, regional director for the Environment Department inSaint John, says the company has been told to fix the problem.

"We've engaged them through our compliance and enforcement policy to come up with a plan to deal with it."

Thecompany hasagreed to build anew scrubber and lime kiln at the plant to takecare of the pollution problem. J.D. Irving and the department have agreedboth haveto be in operation by December 2007.

Company spokeswoman Mary Keith says work has already begun, but it's going to take a year to finish the project.

She says the newequipment will reduce emissions by approximately 80 per cent.

"It's underway, there's a significant portion of it that has been completed, but it is going to take time to complete the remainder. It is a significant investment betweeneight [$8 million] and roughly $10 million."

But a Saint John clean air advocate, Gordon Dalzell, says the company has spent a lot of money on new production, but has left the environmental control equipment until the last.

"We're disappointed though that the last $10 million they needed to get the equipment hooked up has still not been done. We'd like to see a public commitment to say this money will be spent."

Dalzell says the company should have put the environmental technology in place first, andanother year is too long to wait to bring the S02 emissions under control.