Nova Scotia

Northern Pulp mill still not meeting emission guidelines

The latest testing results from the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, N.S. show the plant is still not meeting emission guidelines.

More tests planned next month

Complaints about the stinking smog generated by the mill have been growing, with the Lung Association receiving an influx of calls from people worried about the health effects. (CBC)

The latest test results from the  Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County, N.S. show the plant is still not meeting emission guidelines. The PC MLA for the area says it shows the Liberal government is "incompetent" in handling the issue. 

The tests were done in August before the mill shutdown for maintenance, but the results were made public Friday.

Particulate from the recovery boiler is lower than before, but still higher than what’s allowed according to the company's industrial approval.

The 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.

The power boiler's particulate reading is 57 per cent above guidelines.

Randy Delorey, the environment minister, said the results indicated the recovery boiler stack emissions have come down, but a power boiler stack has increased, going out of compliance.

“We’ve seen [the recovery boiler stack] moving in the right direction. The power boiler is now the one we’re zeroing in on,” he said. “In both of those incidents, the mill is just coming out of a shutdown and they’ve done work on both of those areas. What we’re looking for in the October test is continued improvement.”

He was surprised to see the power boiler up, and has not yet spoken to the mill to find out why that is the case.

He said he’s heard the concerns of residents and takes them seriously. When the new equipment goes in, he believes it will bring it up to compliance across the board.

The government is expecting to receive a report from the mill within 15 days to explain what they did during the shutdown to improve the emissions. He said they’ll look to the October tests to determine the next steps.

Liberals 'incompetent' says PC MLA

Karla MacFarlane, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Pictou West, called the Liberals “incompetent” in dealing with the issue.

“They are the government in charge. They have a responsibility to ensure, over everything, that our health is protected,” she said.

She said the government should follow the rules, but stopped short of calling to shut down the mill. “They sit down with the mill and discuss, how can we speed up this process? So that we can ensure the people of Pictou County can breathe clean air,” she said. 

She didn’t offer a specific idea for solving the problem. 

New equipment is expected to be installed by next May to meet those standards.

However, Nova Scotia environment officials say they expect work during this month's maintenance shutdown will address that problem.

The Abercrombie Point mill contracted Stantec, an environmental consulting firm, to conduct the week-long series of tests in August.

Samples were collected from the mill's recovery boiler, power boiler, dissolving tank and lime kiln.