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Northern Pulp files for judicial review in response to environmental report request

On Thursday, Northern Pulp began first round of layoffs in preparation for their Jan. 31 shutdown

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caption Northern Pulp filed for a judicial review on Thursday.
Lucy Harnish

Northern Pulp has filed for a judicial review in response to the province’s request for an environmental assessment of their proposed effluent treatment plant.

The proposed plant would replace their current facility at Boat Harbour which they will no longer be able to use as of Jan. 31, forcing the pulp mill to shutdown.

In a statement, Northern Pulp said it applied to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax to review Environment Minister Gordon Wilson’s decision to determine if it “was made on proper grounds and considered all of the evidence presented.”

The application requesting the review was delivered by Northern Pulp, nine other people from the forestry sector, and Unifor, the union representing the mill’s employees.

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“We’re hoping that through this judicial review, Northern Pulp will be provided with clarity about the process and elements required in order to be successful in the [environmental assessment] process that we’ll be embarking on later this year,” Brian Baarda, CEO of Paper Excellence Canada said in the statement. Paper Excellence is the parent company of Northern Pulp.

The Signal attempted to contact Northern Pulp for comment, but did not receive a response by the end of the day.

In an emailed statement, Department of Environment spokesperson Rachel Boomer said, “The judicial review, as we understand it, is challenging the environmental assessment process and the minister’s decision on it, not the decision to close Boat Harbour. Boat Harbour will close.”

On Thursday, CBC Nova Scotia reported the company is seeking the review on the grounds that, in part, the minister erred in law and acted unreasonably in preparing and rendering the decision, and failed to properly interpret and apply certain provisions of the Environment Act.

Last month, Wilson announced that Northern Pulp would need to complete an environmental assessment report to follow through with their proposed plant. A report can be requested by the environment minister if they anticipate adverse effects, including environmental impacts, from the project.

In his decision, Wilson cited marine, air, land and design problems with Northern Pulp’s project proposal.

Their current design proposal operates out of the same plant at Abercrombie Point. In their proposal, effluent would be treated onsite and sent through a pipeline about 15 kilometres long that leads into the Northumberland Strait.

On Thursday, Northern Pulp said that the first round of layoffs had begun and only 20 per cent of current employees would report to the mill on Feb. 1 to continue putting the mill into hibernation.

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Dayne Patterson

Dayne Patterson is a recent graduate student at the University of King's College. He's reported from all over Canada, including B.C., Alberta,...

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