CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Federal Fisheries Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, says he’s hearing a lot of concern over Northern Pulp’s plans for a new effluent treatment facility for its Pictou County mill.
LeBlanc was asked to address the matter on Thursday following a press conference he was attending in Pooles Corner for a fisheries funding announcement.
Earlier last week, P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan called on the federal government to require a more comprehensive impact assessment of the effluent plans. The premier sent letters to both federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil expressing his concerns over the proposed facility’s plans to release wastewater from the pulp mill into the Northumberland Strait.
LeBlanc said his department knows the fishery is important to P.E.I., but noted it is also important to the province of Nova Scotia.
“I have every confidence this (impact assessment) will be done properly but people who have concerns should voice them and that’s why I thought (MacLauchlan’s) letter was so good,’’ LeBlanc said.
In regard to the matter, the federal fisheries minister said he has heard from his colleagues in the House of Commons, particularly from Sean Fraser, who represents Central Nova in Nova Scotia. And he’s heard from colleagues who represent fishermen in P.E.I.
“The premier (of P.E.I.) has certainly shared with me the concern that his government has. As you know, the environmental assessment that’s being conducted now is being conducted by the government of Nova Scotia under provincial laws and provincial regulations.
“My colleague, the minister of environment and climate change, will obviously be working with the Nova Scotia government to ensure that the assessment is robust and transparent and takes advantage of the best possible science and also includes public input.’’
Northern Pulp in Pictou, N.S., has been told by the Nova Scotia government to replace the wastewater treatment facility at the mill by 2020. But, updating the facility could involve a process that would see wastewater drained into the Northumberland Strait, if it goes ahead as planned.
LeBlanc said MacLauchlan’s letter raises public attention and shows a very real concern that everybody shares, that no one does anything that will end up having a negative effect on the fishery.
“I’ll continue to do everything I can to ensure that we don’t ever authorize, and in this case it would be the Government of Nova Scotia to be precise, don’t authorize something, and there’s no reason to think that they want to, that would have a negative impact on the fishery.’’