Nova Scotia

New ministerial order issued for Northern Pulp

The Nova Scotia government has released an updated ministerial order related to the terms that must be followed as the Northern Pulp mill is decommissioned and its property cleaned up.

Order focuses on cleanup, monitoring and decommissioning efforts by the mill

The Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point, N.S., ceased operations in January. (Robert Short/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government has released an updated ministerial order related to the terms that must be followed as the Northern Pulp mill is decommissioned and its property cleaned up.

"I feel very confident that what we have put in place will protect the environment and ensure that area is kept stable as they move toward the decommissioning process," Environment Minister Gordon Wilson told reporters during a telephone briefing Thursday.

"It spells out very clearly exactly what outcomes we're looking for in managing the system that's there now."

Among other things, the order outlines requirements for the collection and disposal of storm water and landfill leachate from the site. The mill must also hire a third-party professional engineer "to develop a decommissioning plan for the effluent pipeline as well as the open ditches, settling basins and aeration basin."

"This plan shall include but not be limited to all details regarding the removal and disposal of all solid wastes located within the open ditches, settling basins and aeration basin as well as removal/disposal of all effluent and/or wastewater from the pipeline, open ditch, settling basins and aeration basin and final decommissioning and sealing of the pipeline."

Earlier this week, the provincial government announced it would split cleanup costs with the mill to a maximum of $10 million. That work includes the removal of the pipe that connected the mill to Boat Harbour, which was used until the end of January as the mill's effluent treatment site.

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said the conditions of a ministerial order issued in January were met by Northern Pulp. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Mill officials will also be responsible for continued monitoring of groundwater, surface water and air quality.

The company must hire an engineer to assess and develop a closure plan for the on-site industrial landfills. That work must include "a comprehensive long-term monitoring plan" and schedule for the work.

Wilson said the new ministerial order is an evolution of the one he issued back in January.

The original was to identify what potential concerns and environmental hazards there were and come up with a process to deal with them and monitor it as part of the mill's hibernation. All of those requirements were met, said Wilson.

This new order is a step toward the more long-term effort related to areas of concern, how to deal with and monitor them as the company potentially moves through its environmental assessment report. Without completing that report and approval from the province, the mill cannot build a new effluent treatment facility.

A spokesperson for mill owner Paper Excellence declined comment, saying the mill would issue a statement next week.

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