Protestors want faster cleanup from pulp mill

Staff ~ The New Glasgow News
Published on June 22, 2014
Sara MacKay used a bit of humour to garner attention on Saturday as she stood outside Minister Peter MacKay’s constituency office. 

NEW GLASGOW - Protestors from the Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill group demonstrated and rallied for signatures on a petition outside Minister Peter MacKay’s office on Saturday.

As they stood on the sidewalk on East River Road with signs, they said they wanted a cleaner pulp mill immediately.

“We want it cleaned up. We want the process started right away,” Dave Cullen said, referring not only to the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility, but also air emissions.

Northern Pulp began the preparations on a new precipitator earlier this month, expecting it to be completed and reducing dust from the mill in spring 2015.

The provincial government and the band council for Pictou Landing First Nations signed an agreement in principle last week in relation to the effluent entering Boat Harbour.

The province committed to drafting legislation by June 2015 to end the use of Boat Harbour as a treatment facility.

If an agreement isn’t reached after good faith negotiations, they will pay the band $1 million.

 “I want to believe in (the government’s latest offer). I honestly do … the thing is, each government continues to pass the buck, nothing’s been done and it’s always been false promises so nobody believes anything they’re saying,” Cullen said about the offer.

Cullen said the protest was inspired by the blockade in Pictou Landing, and they wanted to make sure it wasn’t portrayed as simply a Pictou Landing First Nations issue.

Another protestor, Sara MacKay, stressed that she didn’t want to see the mill shut down, noting that she knows many people that work there and believes it’s an important part of the local economy.

“I also think it’s important to honour our environment and to be responsible, to be responsible and to clean up after the mess that we’ve made in this county and that we’ve allowed to happen in this county,” she said. “This is not a bunch of people getting together just saying, ‘shut the mill down,’ because that doesn’t make any sense either in this county. There’s got to be some kind of compromise that everybody can live with.”

The group ranged in size throughout the day with an average of approximately a dozen protestors.