Nova Scotia

Northern Pulp to appeal tougher emissions standards in Nova Scotia

Northern Pulp says it is working to appeal stricter emissions regulations that were imposed by Nova Scotia's government on Friday.

Emissions must be 80% lower, effluent must be reduced by 25%, water usage to be cut by a third

One of the conditions of the new five-year operating permit is that emissions of particulate matter must be 80 per cent lower than what was measured coming out of the stack last summer. (CBC)

Northern Pulp says it is working to appeal stricter emissions regulations that were imposed by Nova Scotia's government on Friday.

"These compliance standards that they have come out with are beyond what has been requested by other provinces or states, pretty much anywhere in North America," said Bruce Chapman, the mill's general manager.

The Nova Scotia government is telling the mill it must reduce the amount of effluent it creates by 25 per cent over five years, just as the new five-year operating approval for the mill in Pictou County has been made public.

Previously, the government had not imposed an effluent limit on the mill.

The approval also requires the mill to have pollution control equipment on its recovery boiler operating by May 30.

Emissions of particulate matter must be 87.5 per cent lower than what was measured coming out of the stack last summer and 80 per cent lower than the last operating approval in 2011.

The water consumption must be cut by 34.5 per cent over the next five years. The Department of Environment says that number is based on the mill consuming 96,000 cubic metres of water per day, a number it got from another government department.

However, CBC figures from the Middle River pumping station show the average daily water consumption by the mill is closer to 81,000 cubic metres, resulting in a reduction of 23 per cent, not 34.5 per cent.

Northern Pulp says mill's viability threatened

Chapman said the new water and air requirements "have serious impacts on our business."

The new regulations threaten the viability of the mill's operations, he said.

"Our goal was to have a permit that enabled us to meet our environmental responsibilities, while at the same growing our business," Chapman said.

"This permit simply doesn't allow us to do that. It doesn't allow us to have a long-term sustainable business in Pictou County."

Both the effluent reductions and the decrease in water usage won't take effect for two years.

People in Pictou County are upset that the mill and the Department of Environment have regularly failed to enforce the rules around emission standards.

In November 2013, the particulate reading was 78 per cent higher than the acceptable level. The company says there has been a 25 per cent improvement since then.

The facility has been working to meet the deadline of May 30 after a government compliance order was issued in August.

The new five-year approval caps the mill's annual production at 310,000 tonnes of pulp. The environment department says that represents no change in production and the mill is currently operating below that level.

When the new measures were announced by the province Friday, Environment Minister Randy Delorey said the measures would bring Northern Pulp in line with other kraft pulp mills in North America. Chapman said there is some truth to that.

"In some cases, it does, but in other cases, it is breaking new ground," said Chapman, who declined to get into specifics.

With files from Jennifer Henderson

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