Paper Excellence of Richmond, BC, is proposing a complete transformation of Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation, a producer of high-quality Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp at its kraft pulp mill in Pictou County that is used in the manufacturing of a variety of products from tissue and paper towels to food additives and packaging.
Installation of a new tertiary effluent treatment system, consisting of rotating disc filters, will ensure the highest quality water release and colour removal, the company says. The continuously operating tertiary treatment will be the second of its kind in Canada. Converting the recovery boiler to a low-odour configuration and a new wet electrostatic precipitator to remove fine particles from being released into the air are being proposed.
The mill operated for more than six decades prior to its hibernation in January 2020. It is clear to Paper Excellence that future mill operations and processes — from community engagement and transparency to forestry practices and addressing odour, air, and water emissions — must be better than the mill of yesterday.
Paper Excellence is proposing to transform the mill into a best-in-class operation and one of the world’s cleanest, most environmentally focused, and community-based mills.
“Paper Excellence acknowledges community concerns and wants to work with community members to build trust, finalize a transformation plan for a clean and sustainable Mill, and develop a new relationship for the Mill and community moving forward,” said Graham Kissack, VP, Environment, Health & Safety, and Corporate Communications, Paper Excellence.
Since hibernating the mill in January 2020, Northern Pulp has reviewed findings and stakeholder input on the previously proposed replacement effluent treatment facility to inform the transformation plan. A significant part of Northern Pulp’s community engagement over the past year has been through the formation of and, engagement with an independent, volunteer Environmental Liaison Committee, which produced a report outlining the issues and concerns they propose need to be addressed if the mill is to reopen.
The more than $350 million proposed transformation plan has been developed to address community issues and concerns while using best available technology to transform the mill into a best-in-class operation, environmentally and otherwise.
The proposed transformation plan will provide a sustainable future for the Mill and its workforce, the community, and the forestry sector throughout Nova Scotia. Among other things, the Mill transformation will result in:
- No detectable odour in surrounding communities during normal operations, visible plumes above the mill reduced by 70%, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Water use reduced by 45%, and wastewater components to be treated and reduced by 75%. The treated wastewater will be released into Pictou Harbour, adjacent to the mill site. The exact location will be determined through further environmental study and community engagement.
- All new equipment is located on the mill site and no pipeline crossing neighborhood communities.
- Full implementation of the Lahey Report recommendations on Northern Pulp-owned and Crown-managed land.
- A low-carbon and energy-efficient operation.
Key elements of the mill transformation include:
- A public dashboard on the Northern Pulp website to display live environmental data, such as ambient monitors, mill recorded environmental data, water use, etc.
- Oxygen delignification to reduce bleaching chemical use.
- Best new primary and secondary treatment systems to remove solids, organics, and colour.
- Implement the Lahey Report recommendations on Northern Pulp private lands and crown allocation.
Northern Pulp has launched a new information and engagement website, www.TomorrowsMill.ca, for community members to learn more and provide input on the proposed transformation plan.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for community members to receive updates, review science-based information, ask questions, and engage in dialogue about the proposed transformation,” said Kissack. “In the short-term, we will be hosting virtual and telephone town hall meetings and we will shift to in-person sessions as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.”
Northern Pulp acknowledges it operates in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded territory and ancestral homeland of the Mi’kmaq Nation, and looks forward to meaningful engagement and collaboration with Pictou Landing First Nation and members of the Indigenous community in Nova Scotia.
The company has filed the project description for the effluent treatment system including tertiary treatment with Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change. Filing the project description is the first step in the provincial environmental approval process.
“We look forward to working with the Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change, conducting thorough and transparent scientific research, and consulting with the public and aboriginal people throughout the environmental assessment process,” said Kissack.
The transformation of Northern Pulp would result in hundreds of jobs during construction and re-establish more than 300 well-paying direct mill jobs in Pictou County and more than 2,500 forestry sector jobs throughout the province when the mill is operational.