The provincial government of Nova Scotia is acting to reign-in the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, Nova Scotia. For 42 years the mill has been dumping harmful waste into lagoons. They have created what a former environment minister called a “toxic mess” and one of the worst cases of environmental racism in Canada.
The mill has failed to respect the timelines given to them five years ago, and they have also reneged on their promise to clean up the estuary that they polluted. The mill’s parent company, Paper Excellence Canada has been criticized by the province for their failure to invest in waste reduction facilities.
Stephen McNeil, the Premier of Nova Scotia said he had hoped that the mill operators would work with the Department of the Environment to improve their water treatment capabilities. McNeil also said the mill failed to provide adequate science-based impact information.
The provincial enforcement of wastewater rules will prevent the mill from pumping wastewater into lagoons by Jan. 31, 2020. These lagoons are situated near the First Nation’s community of Pictou Landing. Indigenous leaders lauded the decision and Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul thanked the premier in a statement. The move was also supported by Jim Ryan, the mayor of nearby Pictou.
In response to the government’s decision to stop them from dumping their toxic waste, BC based Paper Excellence Canada has announced they will close the mill. This will result in the loss of 300 jobs at the mill and around 2,400 positions in the forestry sector, another 8,300 positions across the province could also be effected. The premiere announced a $50M transition fund to help build a new sustainable forestry industry and support those hit by job losses. McNeil had a hopeful message for workers and their families, “please don’t despair. Our government will help and support you in this transition.”