Nova Scotia has announced that Boat Harbour in Pictou County will undergo a detailed Class II environmental assessment process under the province’s Environment Act.
Environment Minister Iain Rankin concluded that the Class II process is necessary for the cleanup project, because of its size and multiple contaminants in the soil and water. The harbour has been used as the disposal site for industrial effluent contamination in the 1960s.
Nova Scotia Lands will manage the project.
“This is the biggest cleanup project since the Sydney Tar Ponds and the cleanup itself could have serious environmental impacts,” said Rankin. “Our process is designed to avoid those impacts.”
The environmental assessment process will consider how ground and surface water could be impacted and how to dispose of contaminants. The process begins when the proponent registers the project, which has not yet happened.
A Class II assessment typically takes 275 calendar days to complete, not including the time it takes the proponent to prepare an environmental assessment report.
The department will appoint an environmental assessment panel through the agencies, boards and commissions process. The panel may hold public hearings or a public review of the project.
Under the Boat Harbour Act, Northern Pulp’s existing effluent treatment facility at Boat Harbour must close by January 31, 2020. In November of last year, the province’s auditor general warned of the escalating costs due the environmental liability of the site.
Northern Pulp is currently working to design a new effluent treatment plant to replace it. The project requires a Class I environmental assessment. Unlike the current Boat Harbour facility, the new plant must be designed and built to meet today’s effluent treatment standards.