Group wants federal agency to conduct Northern Pulp treatment plant environmental assessment

Friends of the Northumberland Strait (FONS) is asking the provincial Environment Minister to hand the environmental assessment of Northern Pulp's proposed effluent treatment facility (ETF) to a federal agency, citing a conflict of interest.

In a letter to Margaret Miller last week, FONS outlined their case saying the province has a direct financial interest in the facility's design and construction, a former lawyer and lobbyist for Northern Pulp, Bernie Miller, is now a senior civil servant, the province may face "significant financial consequences and litigation" if the environmental assessment isn't approved quickly, and stating government has been unwilling to speak with the local community that would be affected by the facility.

Miller was asked to have the department step aside and pass the environmental assessment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).

FONS President Jill Graham-Scanlan says, with the points outlined above, they believe the province "is unable to conduct an environmental assessment of Northern Pulp's proposed new ETF that will be, or will be seen to be, fair and unbiased."

She says, "We cannot allow the same bad decisions that have been made for 50 years to continue when there is so much at stake, including the livelihood of thousands of fishing families."

Graham-Scanlan reports that over 5,000 letters from citizens have been sent to CEAA to request a federal environmental assessment of Northern Pulp's proposed project.