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Pictou Landing First Nation shuts down Northern Pulp mill after effluent spill

The Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia is blocking access to an effluent spill site near Mi’kmaq burial grounds, effectively shutting down the Northern Pulp mill. Environmental consultants are being allowed past the blockade to test for contaminants and to determine how to clean up the site, but the mill cannot operate until the pipe is repaired.

The CBC reports, “The pipe [that spilled] carries 90 million litres of pulp mill waste every day from the [Northern Pulp] mill site at Abercrombie Point, under the East River in Pictou Harbour to a treatment facility at Pictou Landing.” The Chronicle Herald adds, “An unknown amount of untreated effluent containing pollutants that the mill hasn’t made public poured into Pictou Harbour on Tuesday morning and early afternoon. The mill cannot operate until the 3.6-kilometre pipe to its effluent treatment site at Boat Harbour is repaired.”

Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul says, “Why did my band council have to learn through social media and text messages that these pollutants were pouring out? We should have been notified of this immediately.”

The Chronicle Herald article adds, “Paul said her First Nation will continue the blockade of the spill site until mill officials consult with her band council about Mi’kmaq burial grounds near the spill site. She said environmental consultants would be allowed through the blockade to test for contaminants and determine how to clean up the site.”

“The Pictou Landing First Nation is suing the province to clean up the Boat Harbour treatment site, adjacent to the First Nation. Since 1967, the mill has treated its effluent at the site, that is now owned by the province. …A 2011 report conducted for the mill by Stantec Consulting Ltd., and obtained earlier this year through a freedom of information request filed by the Halifax Media Co-op, pointed out that at that time there was no monitoring of the contents of the effluent before it reached the Boat Harbour treatment site.”

In 2011, the Halifax Media Co-op reported, “An estimated (trillion) litres of effluent from the Abercrombie Pulp and Paper Mill – currently owned by Northern Pulp — have flowed into Boat Harbour and the surrounding area since 1966, …causing untold environmental and health damage” In 2009, The Coast reported, “The band [has] demanded the province clean up Boat Harbour and put the waste somewhere else. The province agreed [but] it will cost lots of money. A new facility will cost about $100 million, and dredging Boat Harbour of its toxic sediments will cost another $7 to $12 million.”

We ask our supporters to contact the Nova Scotia minister of the environment Randy Delorey (Telephone: 902-424-3736, Email: min_env@gov.ns.ca) to encourage him to consult with the Pictou Landing First Nation on this situation and to take action to clean up Boat Harbour. We also ask our supporters to send video messages of support via Twitter and Facebook to build awareness and solidarity on this issue.

The Council of Canadians is closely following this and expresses its solidarity with the Pictou Landing First Nation.