GOVERNMENT

Nova Scotia premier rejects Northern Pulp extension

“The deadline is the deadline,” said Stephen McNeil

Premier Stephen McNeil has refused Northern Pulp’s pleas for more time; it must meet its deadline and stop polluting Boat Harbour in Pictou.

“The deadline is the deadline,”  McNeil told reporters after a cabinet meeting Thursday.

The Northern Pulp Paper Excellence company announced on Thursday it will not be able to meet the deadline. It wants more time to make the required environmental upgrades to the Boat Harbour waste water treatment facility. 

“We provided a five-year window; we believed a five-year window was enough time five years ago and we still believe that today,” said McNeil.

The Pictou Landing First Nations community has been watching pulp and paper industries pollute the Boat Harbour since 1967. Thursday marks the one-year countdown for clean-up efforts and environmental restoration.

Legislation passed in 2015 makes it illegal for Northern Pulp to release untreated waste water into Boat Harbour after Jan. 31, 2020.

McNeil said he hopes the company finds a solution and will “be able to get a situation where they will have an operating mill.”

However, his government is already working on a “plan b” for liability around pension plans and laid-off plant workers, if the mill closes.

In that case, approximately 300 workers would lose their jobs and 2,040 jobs are at risk in related industries, said Kathy Cloutier, Northern Pulp’s director of corporate communications. 

Cloutier said that the company will start upgrading the treatment plant with or without the approved deadline extension from the government.   

The only possibility for extension, said McNeil, would be a community consensus from Pictou Landing First Nations and a law amendment petitioned by an MLA.