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Local businesses benefit from Northern Pulp shutdown


PICTOU – As Northern Pulp ramps up production again after a 10-day annual maintenance shutdown, some local businesses will be bidding farewell to some much-appreciated patronage.

Workers and contractors conduct maintenance on the old electrostatic precipitator as construction on the new precipitator continues outside the Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp. facility. With 485 visiting workers to the pulp mill during the 10-day annual maintenance shutdown, restaurants and accommodations have been busy and booked solid. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

As in previous years, the influx of workers to the county has generated an economic bump. Northern Pulp said they have hired a number of skilled workers, including 160 term employees, 125 boilermakers and more than 200 other contractors to work alongside Northern Pulp employees to get the job done.

That’s been good news for Preston Parson, one of the owners of the Lionstone Inn in Pictou.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “The mill is bringing in quite a bit of business as these workers come to stay in the county.”

While he noted there are others booked for a stay at the inn, the workers with rooms has meant the motel has been booked solid.

“When there’s a shutdown, these guys need a place to stay so you can definitely notice it.”

They also need food. Stavros Cougias, manager of Acropole in Pictou, noted the workers have been in and out of his restaurant for lunch and supper.

“We’ve had a lot of workers here for the shutdown,” he said. “It’s mostly the workers who are new customers. There hasn’t been anything extravagant, no new tourists flooding the market here lately, so this helps.”

Cougias noted that during the annual shutdown, Pictou gets flooded with workers looking for places to stay, eat and shop. Northern Pulp stated that over $8 million has been invested in this shutdown, most of which will fund wages and materials.

“The company works closely with local trade unions to hire workers needed for the shutdown activities,” said former spokesperson David MacKenzie in a release last week. “The shutdown also benefits local restaurants, retailers and hotels with increased traffic and bookings.”

This year’s shutdown included the finalization of the natural gas, work on the current precipitator and recovery boiler to improve its operation and a new damper and nozzles will be installed on the power boiler scrubber to improve its efficiency.

The installation of a full new set of 1,200 MODO scrubber spray nozzles that will aid in an increased removal of particulate matter also took place during the shutdown.

When in town, Cougias noted the workers have an opportunity to try the famous Pictou County pizza.

“A lot of the guys either like it or love it. We’ve had a few say they’re coming back or a least taking a pizza home to the wife before they head out.”

Parson noted that he hopes the plant can come through the criticism, make upgrades and stay open.

“If the plant does close, it will definitely have an negative effect on business here.”

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