Mi’kma’ki Territory (Nova Scotia)– Jonathan Beadle, citizen of Pictou Landing First Nation was documenting the major pollution site on his traditional territory around 7:30 pm on June 9, 2014 when he discovered that the primary pipeline carrying effluent from Northern Pulp and Paper into Boat Harbour was not operating. This pipeline was built for moving the effluent created by the toxic industrial process of pulping of wood into paper to be dumped untreated into Boat Harbour. Boat Harbour is a historical fishing site for the local First Nations.
“When we got up to the site yesterday (June 9, 2014) to check on Boat Harbour, I noticed the mill was not operating at full capacity. My son and I walked in toward Boat Harbour and as soon as we got to the main area where the pipeline comes out into the bay we noticed the effluent pipeline was turned off. This spill had to have been going on for some time. The clean up for the area is going to be incredibly expensive. This situation with Boat Harbour has been going on for a long time, people need to know there is a sacred burial ground underneath were Northern Pulp built their effluent pipe that dumps into Boat Harbour” stated Jonathan Beadle, Pictou Landing First Nation citizen.
Chief Andrea Paul, elected leader of Pictou Landing First Nation, reported that she had been in contact with the province and Northern Pulp and inquired about how the spill was to be cleaned up. The Nova Scotia provincial government refused to share this information.
Concerned about the disturbance of one of their nations sacred burial sites, she and her elected First Nations government ordered the blockade on June 11th. Both Pictou Landing members and elected council don’t want burial sites disturbed and have asserted that no clean up effort will happen without guarantees on this key concern thru proper consultation channels. She was very clear that the blockade is a peaceful assertion of sovereignty.
In the mean time, the Northern Pulp and Paper mill remains shut down at the cost of $500 000.00 CND per day according to CEO of company.
The Abercrombie Point pulp and paper mill, currently owned by Northern Pulp, itself a shell company of Asia Pulp and Paper, an Indonesian company currently the subject of a Greenpeace-led boycott, has been operating with the heavy assistance of provincial loans and subsidies for decades.
The massive contamination of Boat Harbour, and the use of this once pristine tidal estuary as a raw effluent dump, continues uninterrupted because of a short sighted agreement the province of Nova Scotia entered into during the bygone era of Nova Scotia’s logging boom. The province assumed liability for clean up in the event of mill closure, hence a revolving door of mill ownership which now sees the mill in the hands of notorious global polluters.
The legacy of this agreement by the province along with years of the pulp and paper mill dumping an estimated trillion litres of untreated effluent into Boat Harbour has created devastating ecological and human health costs for Pictou County, which has the highest rates of various cancers in Nova Scotia, which itself has the highest provincial rates of many cancers in Canada. This is one of the most blatant examples of environmental racism in Canada to date.
Video by Blood First Nation Film Maker and activist Elle Maija Tailfeathers. A toxic tour of Northern Pulp and Paper stabilization pond at Boat Harbour Treatment Facility Centre during National Defenders of the Land Gathering in Mi’qma’ki May, 2014.
More at Idle No More.