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The mink industry generates more than $100 million per year in export sales for the province. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP)

Government loans to help mink breeders reduce pollution don’t satisfy one man who lives downstream from several mink farms.

The loans will help local companies process waste from mink farms.

Randy Cleveland lives in Carleton, Yarmouth County, where he says toxic algae blooms regularly pollute the water. Studies have linked the problem to runoff from the mink farms up river.

Cleveland says the new facilities won’t do any good unless 100 per cent of mink farmers are regulated to send 100 per cent of their waste there.

"Let’s say we have a major rain event such as we had two Novembers ago. Material is going to be let out of the spillway in that case, and you’re relying again on the farmer to control that," said Cleveland.

Spec Environmental Solutions Inc. will get $419,000 from ACOA and $195,000 from the province, to create a system to separate liquid and solid waste, to make composting more efficient. Southwest Eco-Energy will get $500,000 from ACOA and $351,000 from the province to develop an anaerobic digestion system that will keep mink waste out of landfill sites, and produce bio-fuel.

Cleveland says he would like to see payment of the loans tied to the quality of water in the area.

Dan Mullen, president of the Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association, says the loans create a win-win situation for people who live in the area, and for mink farmers.

The anaerobic digester will be able to handle 30 per cent of mink manure produced in the area, when the first phase is up and running in a year. The subsequent two phases will mean that almost 100 per cent of manure and mink carcasses can be composted within two to three years, he says. And that will produce green energy.

"With this particular project, they already have 22 farmers signed up, chomping at the bit to be able to take their product there," said Mullen.

"When you talk about whether or not the farmers are going to use these facilities, they’re not going to have a choice. Under the new regulations, the only way you can keep your waste on your property is if you compost it, properly, under the management plan that you developed, and then you’re only allowed to store it for three years. So it’s going to come off the site and go somewhere."

New provincial regulations on mink farms are expected within the next two months.