Northern Pulp Mill: what's in the smelly haze?
The particulate haze in Pictou, N.S., is causing an upset around town
Nova Scotia and the Northern Pulp Mill both acknowledge that the smelly emissions coming from the stacks at the mill in Abercrombie Point are well above the legal limits.
Ongoing monitoring for sulphur, what causes the stench from the mill, show levels exceed provincial regulations about 15 per cent of the time.
On Wednesday, Nova Scotia Environment Minister Randy Delorey said there is no question the mill is malfunctioning, but he has no intention of forcing it to shut down despite public complaints about the emissions coming from the mill.
In a statement released Thursday regarding the Northern Pulp Mill emissions, the MP for the area, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, said he trusts the decision by Nova Scotia Minister of Environment Randy Delorey to not force the mill to shut down.
Particulate levels that create smog get tested twice a year by the province.
The latest test, completed in November, shows levels 78 per cent above what's allowed.
The levels have not been tested since.
Regional engineer Kathleen Johnson monitors Northern Pulp and all industry in northern Nova Scotia for the environment department.
When the effluent pipe broke and because the mill shutdown they had to stop testing-Kathleen Johnson, N.S. Environment Dept. engineer
“They were set up to test again. When the effluent pipe broke and because the mill shut down they had to stop testing,” she said.
Johnson said the air quality will be tested Aug. 18.
She said it “absolutely could be possible” that the air is worse now than before.
David MacKenzie, a spokesman for Northern Pulp, said the smell and particulate are caused by emissions that are getting through an old precipitator, which is a filtration device. He said the company is having logistical issues bringing in a new one.
They hope to have a new precipitator installed by May 2015.
Recent toxins leak at Boat Harbour
On June 11, the mill leaked man-made toxins into the wetland at Indian Cross Point in Boat Harbour, sparking a First Nation’s protest and a promise from the province to clean it up.
Tests taken the day after the leak revealed new contamination.
The marsh area near the spill site had twice the allowable limit of biochemical oxygen demand, meaning there is less oxygen available to break down organic material in the water, indicating a higher level of contamination.
The Federal Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations require that toxic chemicals be non-detectable. However, toxic dioxins and furans regulated by Environment Canada were also detected at the wetland and in smaller amounts at the other two test sites, one near Melmerby beach.
The toxins could have long-term health impacts on people.
We don’t believe that incident is continuing to negatively impact the environment- Kathleen Johnson, N.S. Environment Dept. engineer
“We don’t believe that incident is continuing to negatively impact the environment,” said Johnson. “Those particular test results are currently under investigation.”
The environment department could decide to retest the affected areas.
Johnson said the reason it hasn’t shut down the mill for non-compliance is because it's in the process of installing a pollution control system for May 2015.
The health department says the poor air quality poses no immediate danger.