Premier calls on N.S. fishermen to end block­ade of pipe­line ves­sel


Nova Sco­tia’s premier says he’s hop­ing fishermen end a block­ade of sur­vey boats hired to ex­am­ine a route for an un­der­sea ef­flu­ent pipe­line, but he has no plans to ex­tend the com­pany’s dead­line. Stephen McNeil said Thurs­day he’d ad­vise fishermen to let the seis­mic re­search in the Northum­ber­land Strait take place be­cause it’s a law­ful ac­tiv­ity. “My hope is that peo­ple will al­low peo­ple to do their jobs. What they (the com­pany) is do­ing is seis­mic work .... Then the on­go­ing pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion will have to take place as to what will be or wouldn’t be,” the premier said after a cabi­net meet­ing.

How­ever, he also said it’s up the North­ern Pulp mill near Pic­tou, N.S., to de­cide whether to call in the RCMP to end the block­ade.

McNeil said op­po­nents should rec­og­nize an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view would al­low for pub­lic de­bate over a pro­posed pipe­line that would end the use of a waste-wa­ter plant lo­cated at Boat Har­bour.

Still, as fishermen con­tin­ued a block­ade of the har­bour mouth they started ear­lier this week, the time­line for com­plet­ing the pipe­line be­fore a provin­cially leg­is­lated dead­line looked in­creas­ingly tight.

The prov­ince has a re­quire­ment of Jan­uary 2020 for North­ern Pulp to stop send­ing its waste to the First Na­tion ter­ri­tory.

The nor­mal pe­riod of time for an en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view is close to two months, and work on a po­ten­tial pipe­line would need to be­gin dur­ing con­struc­tion sea­sons in 2019 to be com­plete by early the fol­low­ing year.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has vowed that after half a cen­tury of toxic waste - with 70 mil­lion litres of treated waste daily still flow­ing la­goons on the edge of the Pic­tou Land­ing First Na­tion re­serve - North­ern Pulp must find an al­ter­na­tive.

As the weeks slip by, McNeil said it’s up to the com­pany and the com­mu­nity to fig­ure out a way for­ward.

“The time­line is tight there’s no ques­tion . ... It’s up to the com­pany. The com­pany knew the dead­line. The com­mu­nity knows the dead­line,” said the premier. “We’ll con­tinue to go out and work with the com­mu­nity, com­mu­ni­cate back to the com­mu­nity about pub­lic hear­ings ... There are three elected pub­lic of­fi­cials in that area, they can tell me where they stand on the is­sue ... I’ve heard from none of them about it.”

Tory leader Tim Hous­ton, who is one of the three mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture for the area, said that wasn’t true.

The new Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader said McNeil has for­got­ten he sent his of­fice a let­ter call­ing for a more in­ten­sive level of en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view than has been ap­proved. Hous­ton said he wants a level 2 en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view, as has oc­curred in the planned cleanup of the Boat Har­bour la­goon, rather than the level 1 set for the ef­flu­ent pipe­line.

In a class 1 re­view, the pro­po­nent does a large por­tion of the work to de­ter­mine the po­ten­tial im­pacts of the project. After it is filed with the prov­ince, the prov­ince will re­view the ap­pli­ca­tion, give the pub­lic 30 days to voice any opin­ion on the project and then make a de­ci­sion on whether it is ap­proved, con­di­tion­ally ap­proved or de­nied.

A class 2 in­volves a 275-day time­line that re­quires a full pub­lic hear­ing and in­volves a panel of ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts.

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