‘Chal­lenges ahead’

De­spite time crunch, Pa­per Ex­cel­lence still com­mit­ted to North­ern Pulp’s pres­ence in Pic­tou County

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY ADAM MACINNIS

Pa­per Ex­cel­lence says it’s still com­mit­ted to a fu­ture in Pic­tou County.

De­spite vo­cal op­po­si­tion to its pro­posed plans for a re­place­ment treat­ment fa­cil­ity that would pipe treated ef­flu­ent into the Northum­ber­land Strait, an ever-nar­row­ing win­dow to get the project com­plete be­fore the Boat Har­bour Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity is man­dated to close and even though Pa­per Ex­cel­lence has just pur­chased three pulp mills out west that pro­duce a sim­i­lar prod­uct, the com­pany has no plans on pulling out of Pic­tou County, says Kathy Cloutier, di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“Pa­per Ex­cel­lence ex­ec­u­tives, North­ern Pulp man­age­ment and those des­ig­nated on the Ef­flu­ent Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity Re­place­ment Project are com­mit­ted to this project, North­ern Pulp and its fu­ture,” she said.

Over the sum­mer, Cloutier said the com­pany has tried to lis­ten to the con­cerns about the orig­i­nal pro­posed route and have de­vel­oped one that is more land­based but will still dis­charge treated ef­flu­ent into the Northum­ber­land Strait.

All bleached kraft pulp mills in the world re­quire a sim­i­lar dis­charge, she says.

On Oct. 21, the com­pany pre­sented the al­ter­nate route to Pic­tou Land­ing First Na­tion and lo­cal fish­er­men, as well as its own em­ploy­ees, but there is still no time­line on when the project will be filed with the Nova Sco­tia Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment.

Cloutier said the com­pany is still not sure whether it will go with a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the orig­i­nal pro­posed route - which would have had an out­fall in the Pic­tou Road area - or if it will use the new route, which emp­ties off of Cari­bou Point.

Un­til that is de­cided, North­ern Pulp won’t be able to fi­nal­ize a time­line on when the project is filed for en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­proval.

Can it be done be­fore Jan­uary 2020?

If the prov­ince sticks with its com­mit­ment to close the Boat Har­bour Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity by Jan­uary 2020, that leaves just over a year for North­ern Pulp to have a new treat­ment fa­cil­ity up and run­ning so it can con­tinue oper­a­tion with­out in­ter­rup­tion. Be­cause of the micro­organ­isms used in the ef­flu­ent treat­ment process, start­ing in the cold of win­ter would not be ideal, so the fa­cil­ity would need to be oper­a­tional ahead of that date.

“With re­spect to that time­line, we are ab­so­lutely aware of the chal­lenges ahead,” Cloutier said.

Asked if the com­pany will ask the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment for an ex­ten­sion on the clo­sure of Boat Har­bour, Cloutier said North­ern Pulp is not at that point and that the tar­get it’s work­ing with is still Jan­uary 2020.

Pur­chase of western mills un­re­lated

On Oct. 9, Pa­per Ex­cel­lence Canada an­nounced that it had en­tered into an agree­ment to buy Cat­a­lyst Pa­per Cor­po­ra­tion, in­clud­ing its three pulp mills lo­cated in Crofton, Port Al­berni and Pow­ell River, B.C.

“This an­nounce­ment is a con­tin­ued step to­wards Pa­per Ex­cel­lence’s longterm growth plan within Canada and the prov­ince,” Brian Baarda, Pa­per Ex­cel­lence chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer said at the time. “With this ac­qui­si­tion, Pa­per Ex­cel­lence is clearly demon­strat­ing its com­mit­ment to Bri­tish Columbia.”

But rather than sig­nalling a shift in Pa­per Ex­cel­lence’s in­ter­est from east to west, Cloutier said peo­ple should view it as a com­mit­ment to Canada as a whole by the Chi­nese-owned com­pany.

“It’s the op­po­site in terms of the com­mit­ment to Nova Sco­tia,” she said. “It’s re­in­forc­ing Pa­per Ex­cel­lence’s com­mit­ment to Canada and to Nova Sco­tia.”

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