‘I’m ter­ri­fied noth­ing’s go­ing to sur­vive’

Pic­tou County man wor­ried ef­flu­ent has spread to his wet­land prop­erty


There are few things Wil­liam Rowsell en­joys more than strolling through his wet­land prop­erty and be­ing at one with na­ture. Ex­cept on Oct. 23.

Af­ter re­turn­ing from work, Rowsell picked up his news­pa­per and learned about a leak in the pipe­line that car­ries ef­flu­ent from North­ern Pulp. From the in­for­ma­tion in the story, he be­gan to worry about his own prop­erty – lo­cated down­hill of where the spill oc­curred.

Rowsell hur­ried out the door and crossed the road to his prop­erty, a spot where he loves watch­ing the tides come in and mi­grat­ing birds gather. A muskrat of­ten draws his at­ten­tion, and the wa­ter is so clear he of­ten sees fish swim­ming along when the tide is in.

Not any­more.

Rowsell says ef­flu­ent from the spill has flowed down­hill and onto his prop­erty on Shady Lane.

“It’s ex­tremely sludgy, al­most an oily sludge,” he said. “It was clear wa­ter here just yes­ter­day. I could see fish in it.”

Rowsell con­tacted the pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment, which had been called to the scene of the spill to in­ves­ti­gate Oct. 21 af­ter the leak was first re­ported by a man out for his morn­ing walk. He was still await­ing a call back late in the af­ter­noon Oct. 23.

“They were here do­ing the cleanup, but now ev­ery­one’s gone,” he said.

“No­body con­tacted me, I haven’t seen any­body here do­ing clean up. It’s like they cleaned off the top of the hill where the leak was and didn’t look down­hill.”

Kathy Cloutier, di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Pa­per Ex­cel­lence Canada (owner of North­ern Pulp), said in re­sponse to in­quiries about the pos­si­bil­ity that ef­flu­ent has spread to Rowsell’s prop­erty that “an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way, which in­cludes sam­ples that were taken ear­lier to­day.”

Bruce Nunn, a spokesper­son with the pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment, says it’s North­ern Pulp’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to have the ef­flu­ent leak site cleaned up by a site pro­fes­sional, usu­ally an en­gi­neer or en­vi­ron­men­tal firm.

While he didn’t have im­me­di­ate in­for­ma­tion avail­able on Rowsell’s case and couldn’t speak to the specifics about the North­ern Pulp ef­flu­ent leak, Nunn says that cleanup of sites for spills “gen­er­ally takes some time to do be­cause they have to be pretty thor­ough.”

He added that it’s up to the site pro­fes­sional to de­ter­mine the ex­tent of the spill and where it may have spread.

He en­cour­aged Rowsell to con­tact the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment to re­port the prob­lem and en­sure it was in­cluded in the cleanup.

Rowsell says his prop­erty – sev­eral acres of wet­land - is only about 1,500 feet from the site of the spill.

“There’s still grass and weeds grow­ing ev­ery­where, so it’s hard to know how much is here,” he said.

“I’m ter­ri­fied noth­ing’s go­ing to sur­vive,” he said.

“No­body con­tacted me, I haven’t seen any­body here do­ing clean up. It’s like they cleaned off the top of the hill where the leak was and didn’t look down­hill.” Wil­liam Rowsell


Wil­liam Rowsell points to an area near his Pic­tou Land­ing where pol­lu­tion from a rup­tured North­ern Pulp has in­vaded this tidal wet­land.

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