HALIFAX—A paper mill in Nova Scotia that has come under fire for exceeding pollution limits faces tighter emission restrictions after it was granted a renewed industrial permit to continue operating.
Provincial Environment Minister Randy Delorey said the new permit responds to concerns raised by residents of Pictou County, some of whom have complained for years about the Northern Pulp mill.
The changes will be phased in over five years, Delorey said.
“The new approval demonstrates that the status quo is no longer an option,” he said in a statement. “The changes, once implemented, will help to address the concerns of residents and bring Northern Pulp in line with other kraft pulp mills of this type in North America.”
Delorey said the five-year permit includes tighter limits on air emissions, waste water effluent and water usage.
The permit says the mill must reduce particulate emissions to about five times lower than levels set in the previous permit.
The Environment Department said daily limits will also be placed on water usage and wastewater effluent at the mill, which has operated in Abercrombie Point since 1967.
When the mill’s emissions were tested in November, they were found to be 78 per cent higher than acceptable standards.
The company has said it has reduced its emissions since then and has promised to start up new pollution control equipment in May.
The annual emission caps for particulate matter and sulphur dioxide kick in on Jan. 1, 2016.
As for the new water rules, the department said the plant will be required to reduce daily water consumption by 34 per cent by 2020.
The daily release of waste water effluent into Boat Harbour must be reduced by 25 per cent by 2020.
Northern Pulp must also develop a plan by 2017 to stop run-off and other chemicals from flowing into Boat Harbour.
The company has 30 days to appeal the new rules.
The mill’s continued operation has angered many local residents, with some calling for its immediate closure until it deals with its aging smoke stacks.
But company officials have said the cost of such a move would result in the operation shutting down permanently, resulting in the loss of about 230 jobs from the plant and other spinoff jobs.