Abercrombie: 50 Years of Pulp and Pollution

Award-winning journalist and author, Joan Baxter will be in PEI to talk about and read from her book, “The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest”, on Sunday, May 6th.

Since 1967 the Abercombie mill, under various owners, has used the tidal estuary at Boat Harbour as a waste lagoon. Boat Harbour (A’Se’K), is traditional Mi’kmaq territory, of great importance to the Pictou Landing First Nation. It was historically used as a harbour and was rich in eels, lobster and other shellfish. As a result of the continuous dumping of wastewater, today it is a toxic soup containing some of the world’s most dangerous chemicals.

In 2015 the Nova Scotia Government passed the Boat Harbour Act, which requires the Abercrombie mill to have a new treatment facility in operation by 2020 and which mandates the clean-up of the Boat Harbour lagoon. Late in 2017, Northern Pulp, current owners of the mill, made public its proposal for a new effluent treatment plant. The new system would see up to 90 million litres of litres treated wastewater discharged into the Strait each day.

The mill is situated directly across the Northumberland Strait from Prince Edward Island. Local fishermen have expressed concern about the potential impact of such a large amount of fresh (and warmer) water being discharged into the Strait, which is prime lobster fishing ground.

Melanie Giffin, a marine biologist and program planner with the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association, says even if the effluent is as clean as possible, the sheer amount of fresh water being introduced into the Strait could have a detrimental affect on multiple species. “As we know, fresh water floats and so does all of our larvae, more specifically lobster larvae,” she says. Giffin will also be present at the event to offer some local perspective on the Northern Pulp waste treatment plan.

The event will take place on Sunday, May 6th at 2:00 pm at the PEI Farm Centre on University Avenue in Charlottetown. It is being hosted by the PEI Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Save our Seas and Shores PEI, Sierra Club – Atlantic Canada Chapter and the McKillop Centre for Social Justice.

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