Boats are docked at Pier C in Pictou where a vessel surveying the proposed route for Northern Pulp’s effluent pipe was forced by fishermen to return to port on Tuesday. - SUEANN MUSICK THE NEWS
Fishermen opposed to Northern Pulp’s plans to pump treated effluent into local waters say the company’s new route isn’t any better than the last and showcased their opposition by forcing a survey boat back to shore.
On Tuesday — the day after Northern Pulp met with stakeholders over the proposed new route — fishermen let it be known they weren’t accepting the new proposal by blocking a surveying boat from doing its work.
Pictou County fisherman Allan MacCarthy, who is part of a coalition representing fishermen from Nova Scotia, P.E.I., New Brunswick and Pictou Landing First Nation, said “absolutely no way” to Northern Pulp’s latest proposal.
“This new route is totally unacceptable,” said MacCarthy, who fishes out of Caribou Wharf. “Northern Pulp has clearly not been listening. No Pipe in the Strait means this location too. Seventy lobster boats fish out of Caribou. We fish herring and crab from here too. Caribou is the largest wharf on the Nova Scotia side of the Northumberland Strait.”
MacCarthy said he got word on Tuesday that the survey boat doing work for Northern Pulp’s new outfall was in the water near Caribou, so he left the harbour and met the boat in the channel.
“I went out as a peacemaker and told them that everyone is not going to be as friendly as me,” he said. “There was a little foolish talk back and forth. But when the other boats started coming out of Caribou, they left the area.”
He said he escorted the boat back to Pier C in Pictou to make sure nothing would happen.
The survey boat tied up at Pier C and five fishing boats idled in the water close by, watching as people from the surveying boat spoke with RCMP at the pier. By noon, both sides had left the area.
Northern Pulp presented its latest proposed route for the pipe to stakeholders — including the associations representing fishermen from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the Pictou Landing First Nation — on Monday.
The proposal would see effluent piped alongside the causeway running toward Pictou and continue adjacent to the road running to the Caribou-Wood Islands Ferry and then out into the Northumberland Strait, but it was met with opposition.
On Sunday, a leak in the pipe carrying effluent to the Boat Harbour treatment facility prompted the provincial environment department to investigate.
Remediation work began immediately, with no effluent escaping into the East River. Officials say the spill on Indian Cross Point, about midway between the road and the East River, was confined to a wetland area.
“(Monday), we saw again that Northern Pulp did not know that their effluent pipe was leaking until a citizen reported it,” said MacCarthy. “The same thing happened in 2014 — a 47 million litre raw effluent spill — and that’s on land. It’s unbelievable that our government wants us to trust this company with an underwater pipe dumping effluent into our fishing grounds.”
Pictou Landing First Nations Chief Andrea Paul said Northern Pulp had six months to come with a better plan than the last, but it is still focused on putting its treated effluent into the Strait.
“It’s 2018 and we have a bottom line — no more harm to our waters, our fisheries or our communities,” she said.
Northern Pulp has asked fishermen to participate in a project advisory committee.