CHARLOTTETOWN — Justin Trudeau says his government is concerned with plans by a pulp mill in northern Nova Scotia to dump treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait, but the prime minister says there are no plans for a federal environmental assessment because Nova Scotia has that responsibility.
Trudeau was asked about the Northern Pulp project during a recent visit to Prince Edward Island, where Premier Wade MacLauchlan has raised concerns about the environmental impact of the project.
“This project is of concern to us,” Trudeau said after a funding announcement in Charlottetown. “We know that we need to protect our coasts and our oceans.”
But, the prime minister said the project is covered by provincial jurisdiction.
“It’s a provincial lead, going through environmental assessments, but the federal government is looking into ways that it can support,” he said.
Last month, Northern Pulp formally registered the project with Nova Scotia’s Environment Department.
According to the department, the project includes a new effluent treatment facility and a new 15.5-kilometre-long pipeline that will carry treated wastewater to the strait.
It says the pipeline would follow Highway 106 for about 11.4 kilometres, then enter waters near the Northumberland Ferries marine terminal.
The pipe would continue for about 4.1 kilometres through Caribou Harbour to the Northumberland Strait, where the effluent would be discharged through an engineered diffuser.
The project has raised the ire of fishermen, environmentalists, Indigenous activists and others.
Provincial Environment Minister Margaret Miller is to decide whether the project can be granted conditional environmental assessment approval by March 29.
Canadian actress Ellen Page has also spoken out, accusing the provincial Liberal government of complacency.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said his government will conduct an environmental assessment of the project based on its scientific merits — not the commentary of people “from far away.”