Nova Scotia

Northern Pulp air quality monitors years behind schedule

Emissions from the Northern Pulp mill not only exceed government regulations but the company is nearly two years late in meeting a condition in its operating permit from the province, CBC News has learned.

Province knew of Northern Pulp problems before approving operating licence, CBC has learned

he test shows the particulate reading on the recovery boiler is 45 per cent higher than acceptable standards. It's an improvement on last November's test, when it was 78 per cent over. (CBC)

Emissions from the Northern Pulp mill not only exceed government regulations but the company is nearly two years late in meeting a condition in its operating permit from the province, CBC News has learned.

A document sent to the Clean the Mill group led by Matt Gunning in September 2013, states the provincial government knew about the scrubber problem in 2008, years before it gave the mill an approval in May 2011. (Jennifer Henderson/CBC)

As part of its approval  in 2011, Northern pulp was ordered to do an air quality study and install ambient air quality monitors to measure particulate by November 2012.

The Environment Department says it extended the deadline so the mill could repair a non-functioning scrubber linked to higher pollution levels that might skew the study.

Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia’s Environment Minister, said the fact the scrubber wasn't working properly did delay collecting the data. But he told reporter Jean Laroche the province didn't know about the problem before issuing the mill its approval.

"I’m not aware of anything about the fan, from 2008, being an issue. I believe there were issues with the power boiler but not necessarily that piece of equipment. I’d have to check back on the records for that," he said.

However, that contradicts a document sent to the Clean the Mill group led by Matt Gunning in September of last year, which states the provincial government knew about the problem in 2008, years before it gave the mill an approval in May 2011.

"We have proof that the mill found out about it in 2006. Nova Scotia’s [Environment Department], for some reason, didn’t find out about it until 2008 — two years later — and it was 2012 before they issued a directive. Some of these timelines are simply ridiculous and they’re playing with people's health," said Gunning.

Monitors located several kilometres away from mill

The air quality study was completed in May 2013. But it took nearly 17 months for the three monitors to be installed. The three monitors were installed last month in rural areas outside the town of Pictou — two near Pictou Landing and another at the top of Green Hill — several kilometres away from the mill.

Pamela Menchenton, speaking for Nova Scotia's Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal department, said in a statement the placement of the monitors is based upon the air dispersion modeling study completed in May 2013

Two of the monitors are working.

The third — which will measure the smog's fine particles that are of greatest health concern — will be up and running at the end of this month, said Terri Fraser, technical manager for the Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation.

"The first two hi-vol total particulate units were commissioned by Stantec mid-September 2014, with the first sample taken September 17. The PM 2.5 particulate monitor is installed and will be commissioned by the vendor representative and Stantec by the end of October," she said.

"Work on all environmental issues is a work in progress. Northern Pulp is committed to meeting all of its environmental responsibilities."

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