Nova Scotia woodlot owners weighed in Wednesday on the issues surrounding the Northern Pulp mill, torn between their livelihoods and health concerns for the people who live in the area.
Complaints about the stinking smog generated by the mill have been growing.
Wednesday evening, woodlot owners had a chance to voice their opinions about the mill to executives with the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association.
"A mill of this size plays a huge role in this province and it's integrated throughout the supply chain to local sawmills and suppliers of different sizes. It's no small thing," said Will Martin, president of NSWOOA.
Most of the people at the meeting, which was made up mostly of woodlot owners, felt the government needs to become even more involved in the matter.
Mill executives were invited to the meeting but none showed up
The matter of the Northern Pulp mill was a complicated subject for most of the people at the meeting. As woodlot owners, many of them depend on the mill to buy the wood they produce but also want clean air for those who live around the mill.
"We think the environmental standards of the province are archaic and the lack of accountability in both testing in the mill and the government I think is shameful," said one woodlot owner during the meeting.
Others expressed frustration over the amount of time it is taking Northern Pulp to get and install the new precipitator that would curb emissions.
Shape up or shut down
The province has ordered Northern Pulp to get the problem under control by May 30, 2015 or face the cancellation or suspension of its operating permit.
"Hopefully they can straighten it out and the mill can run. I hope they can reduce the pollution and make it a cleaner place," said woodlot owner Don Wilkinson.
The NSWOOA executives will take all the comments made at the meeting and discuss other alternatives to the mill problem.
The Clean Pictou Air group, that is trying to force the mill to reduce its emissions, was on hand during the meeting. Many of those at meeting signed the petition to have Northern Pulp clean up the mill.
Particulate levels at the mill that create smog get tested twice a year by the province.
The latest test, was performed last week, but it could be months before the results are known. The previous test, completed in November, showed levels 78 per cent above what's allowed near the mill in Abercrombie Point.
The Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point processes tonnes of wood chips as a result of the closures of the Bowater Mersey mill in Brooklyn and Minas Basin pulp mill in Hantsport in 2012.