New Brunswick

Bathurst mill site past cleanup deadline

The City of Bathurst and the provincial government are running out of options to hold U.S.-based Green Investment Group Inc., accountable for failing to clean up for the former Smurfit-Stone mill property, as promised.

Province looking into legal action after giving owners 120 days to tear down buildings

The Bathurst mill site has yet to be cleaned up by current owner Raymond Robichaud, who acquired the property in 2015 (City of Bathurst)

The New Brunswick government is looking into legal action against a U.S. company for failing to clean up the old mill site in Bathurst.

Green Investment Group Inc. (GIGI) bought the former Smurfit-Stone property in 2010, with the promise of a "green" cleanup. Instead, the site was stripped of valuable metals and equipment, and left in disrepair.

In April, the Department of Environment and Local Government Minister and local MLA, Brian Kenny, issued a ministerial order, giving the company 120 days to clean up the site.

But the deadline passed on Aug. 14.

"Upon completion of the investigation, our department intends to refer this file to the attorney general's arm of prosecution branch to determine whether charges are going to be laid," Kenny told CBC News.

City's final notice ignored

The City of Bathurst has also been making efforts to take GIGI to task.

City officials say the mill property is in violation of the municipality's dangerous and unsightly premises bylaw, but despite being given final notice, the company has not responded.

Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet says the northern city cannot afford to take the owners of the former Smurfit-Stone property to court and it can't pay to demolish the buildings left on the site. (CBC)
"We issued a notice, and nothing has come forward," said Mayor Stephen Brunet.

"There's a businessman who says he's going to buy it, but nothing has come forward." 

Brunet says the city can't afford to go after GIGI for the cost of the cleanup.

"We could spend millions on this file and not get the results we're looking for," he said.

GIGI is also nearly $1 million behind in its taxes in Bathurst.

The company, which also bought two former Smurfit-Stone paper mills in Quebec in 2010, also failed to complete the environmental cleanup of those sites, according to government officials.

The sudden closure of the Bathurst mill in 2005 left hundreds of people in the small city out of a job. The site has served as a sad reminder ever since.

Earlier this week, council voted to change the name of the Smurfit-Stone Public Library to Bathurst Public Library.