A meeting meant to curtail fishermen’s fears over a replacement effluent-treatment facility had the opposite effect, says a P.E.I. fisherman.
Charlie McGeoghegan, a former MLA who fishes out of Point Prim, was one of approximately 300 fishermen from P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick attending an open house in Pictou County Monday.
He and the other fishermen did not like what they did – and did not – hear as representatives explained the technical details of the proposed process for treatment at Northern Pulp after the current Boat Harbour site is shut down.
“We were hoping to have our concerns alleviated but it actually made it worse after the meeting,’’ says McGeoghegan, who is a member of the Central Northumberland Strait Fishermen’s Association.
Northern Pulp has been told by the Nova Scotia government to replace the mill by 2020. Updating the facility could involve a process that would see wastewater drained into the Northumberland Strait.
McGeoghegan says none of the questions posed by fishermen – or by the biologist they brought along with them – were answered.
He notes to sit for two hours to hear representatives of Northern Pulp and a consulting firm simply say “trust us’’ when they had nothing to backup their claims is ridiculous and frustrating.
He adds studies on the impact of wastewater from the Nova Scotia pulp mill are lacking.
“It boggled our minds that they were that unprepared,’’ he says.
McGeoghegan scoffed at the company’s plans to hold a series of consultations and environmental assessments during the process, right up until summer 2018, to be followed by a 30-day public review, once the environmental assessments are complete.
He accuses Northern Pulp of trying to fast-track the process and trying to use a “loophole’’ to avoid the need to be subject to a full provincial/federal environmental review.
“They want to ram it through,’’ he says. “It’s a serious thing.’’
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac recently promised to take the concerns of Island lobster fishermen to federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
McIsaac said in the legislature last month that the issue is of “grave concern’’ to industry stakeholders over the possibility of contaminating the Island’s lucrative lobster industry.