Tourism operators wade into Northern Pulp waste dispute
First Nation demands full cleanup and remediation of effluent leak
Tourism operators are showing their support for protesters from the Pictou Landing First Nation, who are worried about effluent from the Northern Pulp mill.
Demonstrators cheered as a convoy of vehicles arrived at the blockade site Friday.
Ralph Francis is thankful for the support.
"We finally got people to come out and support us. Boat Harbour has been here for 47 years, and people don't know about it," Francis said.
Francis and other band members are blocking the site where an effluent pipeline broke, carrying waste to Boat Harbour.
The mill is also a concern for tourism operators, though for some it's more about air emissions.
Anne Emmett, with the Braeside Country Inn, said when the wind blows towards Pictou, tourists take one sniff and move on.
Nevertheless, Emmett said, it's important to support the First Nation.
"They're our neighbours across the harbour. Their issues are our issues too," she said.
A leak in an effluent pipe at the mill in Pictou County forced an indefinite shutdown of the plant on Tuesday.
The pipe carries 90-million litres of pulp mill waste every day from the mill site at Abercrombie Point, under the East River in Pictou Harbour, to a treatment facility at Pictou Landing.
Demonstrators are allowing the cleanup to proceed. However, they're stopping repairs on the pipeline, which is keeping the mill closed.
The band wants a clear commitment from the Environment Department to shut down the flow of waste to band land. It also wants remediation of the Boat Harbour site, where liquid waste has been flowing for 47 years.
Chief Andrea Paul has been meeting with Environment Minister Randy Delorey. Neither side is commenting on the ongoing talks.
But Paul says band members feel like they're getting their message across.
"I think my community is feeling very empowered right now," she said.
Department officials say pumper trucks are vacuuming up the effluent from the broken pipe. Samples have been collected to check for pollutants, and the results from the lab are expected next week.
This is the second time in six years this pipe has broken. In 2008, the underwater pipe broke and caused a lengthy shutdown of the mill.