P.E.I. premier opposes Pictou mill's effluent plan

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan added his voice Tuesday to those concerned over Northern Pulp’s plans for a new effluent treatment facility at its mill in Pictou, N.S.

'An outflow pipe placed into the Northumberland Strait could have unintended consequences'

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan is asking for a more comprehensive environmental assessment for Northern Pulp's effluent plan. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan added his voice Tuesday to those concerned over Northern Pulp's plans for a new effluent treatment facility at its mill in Pictou, N.S.

Northern Pulp wants to start discharging treated effluent into the strait starting in 2020 when it upgrades its treatment system. Fishermen who harvest lobster in the strait have expressed concern over the plan.

"I share the concerns of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island fishers that an outflow pipe placed into the Northumberland Strait could have unintended consequences for our commercial fishery and aquaculture industries," MacLauchlan wrote in a letter Tuesday to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna as well as Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

"An effluent pipe that would allow as much as 75,000 cubic metres of fresh warm water to be directed daily into the Northumberland Strait is not a project that our government will support as proposed," MacLauchlan continued. 
 
The letter has been posted on the province's website.

The Northumberland Strait is one of the more sensitive areas in the Gulf of St Lawrence, the premier said. 

More comprehensive assessment

MacLauchlan is asking that a more comprehensive environmental assessment take place than a level 1 assessment planned by Nova Scotia for this summer, "and that the impact on Island fisheries is taken into consideration as part of this work."

"I am confident that we all agree that any development that risks the habitat and reproductive cycle of species such as lobster — or that threatens the livelihood of thousands of families dependent on the fisheries in the Northumberland Strait — cannot proceed," the premier wrote.

Northern Pulp responds

The company responded Tuesday, saying it's prepared to work with government and local communities, including the P.E.I. government, to address concerns.

It says the waste water has been going into the strait for the past 50 years, and the effluent is cleaner now than before.

A spokesperson with the province of Nova Scotia added that P.E.I. will have a chance to submit comments once Northern Pulp has submitted its application for an environmental assessment in late spring or early summer.