Premier hopes ‘cooler heads prevail’ as pulp mill works on assessment

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says he’s concerned about the threat of confrontation and violence as Northern Pulp works on its environmental assessment for a controversial plan to pump treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait.

The Nova Scotia government has committed to stopping the flow of effluent from the Abercrombie mill to the heavily polluted Boat Harbour lagoon by Jan. 31, 2020. The lagoon is next to the Pictou Landing First Nation.

The wider Gulf of St. Lawrence fisheries region is home to lobster and crab fisheries that brought in over $1.2 billion worth of catch in 2016.

“People are very entrenched on both sides of this issue,” said McNeil. “There’s indication of very little flexibility on both sides. Those are always challenging positions for anyone to be in, for the company to be in, for our government to be in and for that community.”

“I hope cooler heads prevail, the facts will prevail and the rule of law will prevail,” said McNeil.

McNeil’s comments come after the RCMP arrested 14 people and entered a fortified checkpoint on a forest service road in northern B.C.

They were enforcing a court injunction, granted in December, ordering people to stop preventing Coastal GasLink pipeline workers from gaining access to the road and a bridge. Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation were preventing the workers from getting through their checkpoints, asserting they could only pass if they had consent from hereditary leaders.

Demonstrators gathered in July to protest plans by Northern Pulp to run an effluent pipe into the Northumberland Strait. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Last month in Nova Scotia, a judge ordered a temporary injunction to stop fishermen from blocking survey boats hired to examine the route for Northern Pulp’s effluent pipeline.

Northern Pulp is working on an environmental assessment for the project, which is expected to be filed with regulators later this month, said Environment Minister Margaret Miller.

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