HILDEN - Shutting down the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou because of environmental-emission concerns would create a province-wide negative impact, an “Forestry is a vital industry in Nova Scotia,” said Jeff Bishop, executive director of the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS).
“It is a part of our past. It is a bright, green key to our future. And it is the backbone of the rural economy,” he said in a news release.
Bishop said that shutting down the mill, instead of waiting until May when the parts required to lower the emissions are expected to be installed, would result in further shutdowns and job losses across the province.
FPANS members are encouraging their fellow Nova Scotians to allow the investments in new emissions technology to be put in place at the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou and to not rush to what some think is an “easy solution” by shutting the mill.
“The time is necessary for this project to ensure it is built properly and will allow the mill to operate safely, and employ hundreds of Nova Scotians across the province for years to come,” Bishop said.
With the interconnected relationship between the landowners who sell wood, the pulp mills, the sawmills and the harvesting and trucking supply chain - losing another pulp mill would be devastating for all parts of the forestry sector and the province’s economy, he said, adding that FPANS did not share the information as a threat of ‘environment vs. jobs’, or ‘environment vs. economy’ but simply as facts to consider when looking for a balanced, long-term solution.
With just over 70 per cent of the industry’s workforce based in rural parts of the province, the forest industry puts $11 million a week into the provincial economy, generates approximately $140 million in taxes for the province to reinvest and exports more than $1 billion in products all over the world each year.
From landowners to product producers, FPANS 600 plus members represent a wide cross-section of all parts of the forest industry, he said.
However, a group comprised of local citizens and business leader in the Pictou area are calling for a shutdown of the mill until the proper equipment can be installed to deal with the environmental issues.
The group has expressed concerns about the health of area residents because of the smokestack emissions and water pollution in Boat Harbour. Further concern is related to the local economy, which the group says is facing negative fallout because of a lack of tourists who are driven away by the dirty-brown, foul-smelling smoke that often hangs in the air in the vicinity of the mill.