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Water Today Title January 18, 2021

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Update 2018/7/12


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by Michelle Moore

Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna has spoken of the possibility of the federal government getting involved in Northern Pulp's plans to build a new effluent treatment facility at Abercrombie Point and its associated pipeline in the Northumberland Strait.

The proposed effluent pipeline would replace the one that currently empties into Boat Harbour Lagoon which the province has ordered closed by the end of January 2020. The replacement pipeline would pump roughly 70 million litres of treated effluent a day into the Strait.

The controversy surrounding this project culminated into what organizers called the largest protest in Nova Scotia history. People came by land and sea from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and all around Nova Scotia to voice their concerns.

The event was organized by Friends of the Northumberland Strait and included members of environmental groups, fishermen's groups, and Indigenous and local government.

At a provincial level, a thirty day class 1 environmental assessment will take place once Northern Pulp has submitted its plans for the new treatment facility and effluent pipeline. A common demand from the speakers was that the federal government require a more extensive environmental review than the one the province is requiring.

On July 10 McKenna said that possibility has not been ruled out. While attending an energy efficiency announcement in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, the minister said Environment Canada would wait until Northern Pulp had submitted its final proposal to make a decision.

The company's final proposal should be delivered this fall. The delay in project registration filing stems from the fact that certain obstacles have been found in the previously proposed route for the effluent pipeline, namely a shipwreck, collapsed pier and a shoal.

In a statement sent to this reporter last week, Kathy Cloutier Communications Director of Paper Excellence, the company that owns Northern Pulp explained that "additional testing is necessary to find the optimum route using sonar, habitat assessment and core sampling."

McKenna said the project must be done in a sustainable way and that it "takes into account the differing perspectives with enough time to hear from folks that have concerns, including Indigenous peoples." McKenna said Environment and Climate Change Canada was aware of the provincial assessment to take place upon filing and said they were watching it closely. She said "we will be assessing it once we have the final proposal from the proponent."

That same day at a press conference in Prince Edward Island, Premier MacLauchlin said that he has received concerns from First Nations, as well as members of the tourism and fishery industries and that his responsibility is to voice those concerns.

In January of this year Premier MacLauchlin wrote a letter to Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Nova Scotia Premier saying "I share the concerns of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island fishers that an outflow pipe placed into the Northumberland Strait could have unintended consequences for our commercial fishery and aquaculture industries."

MacLauchlin continued, "I am confident that we all agree that any development that risks the habitat and reproductive cycle of species such as lobster - or that threatens the livelihood of thousands of families dependent on the fisheries in the Northumberland Strait - cannot proceed."

The full letter can be read on the Prince Edward Island government website.


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