History of The Mill

Scott Pulp Mill ca 1990. Photo by Verne Equinox, on Wikipedia.

An abbreviated History of The Mill: extracts  from Wikipedia: Boat Harbour, Nova Scotia

The Mill was constructed in the 1960s. In 1997, the mill was taken over by Kimberly-Clark. In 2008 the mill was purchased by Northern Pulp, a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper.

Nova Scotia agreed to take responsibility for effluents. A pipeline was dug that carries pulp mill waste from the mill site at Abercrombie Point, under the East River, to the treatment facility at Pictou Landing. Within days of the mill’s operation, aquatic life began dying and the water level rose by 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft).

On June 10, 2014, the pipeline carrying effluent from the mill to the treatment facility ruptured, causing 47,000,000 L (12,000,000 US gal) of effluent to spill into a wetland and thence to the East River and Pictou Harbour.

In March 2016, Northern Pulp were charged under the Fisheries Act and fined $225,000 which was to be distributed equally to three conservation organizations. Following protests by the First Nation over the spill, the Provincial Government passed the Boat Harbour Act, 2015 detailing that effluent treatment in Boat Harbour must cease no later than January 31, 2020, providing the mill five years to determine an alternative effluent handling system.

In January 2019, Northern Pulp asked for a one-year extension on the January 31, 2020 deadline. In December 2019, the request for extension was refused by Premier Stephen McNeil; the mill soon after announced that it would be closing. Northern Pulp was permitted to continue to use the Boat Harbour wastewater treatment plant until the end of April 2020 as it prepared the facility for indefinite closure. As a result of the closure, 300 jobs at the mill were lost.

Northern Pulp is More than a Mill

As well as owning & operating The Mill, NP is “One of Nova Scotia’s largest land managers, overseeing 250,000 hectares of forested lands in Nova Scotia…[and runs] Nova Scotia’s largest nursery operation”.

From a publicly available Paper Excellence/Northern Pulp Document (2020)

Northern Pulp was curtailed and went into a safe and environmentally sound hibernation beginning in January 2020. It has been a cornerstone of Nova Scotia’s forest industry and Pictou County since 1967. Since purchasing Northern Pulp in 2011, Paper Excellence invested heavily in improving mill performance and is proud to have been a key contributor of the Nova Scotia forest industry with the production of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulps. Paper Excellence remains committed to creating well-paying jobs for Nova Scotians, supporting the region’s economy, protecting the environment and thewellbeing of our rural communities.

The Paper Excellence Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation (NPNS) facility is a leading producer of high quality Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulps. These pulps are used by customers worldwide to make a wide variety of products from tissue and paper towels to fine writing paper.

• Nova Scotia’s largest nursery operation, growing six million trees annually for replanting
• NBSK Pulp: 280,000 tonnes per year
• Anchor customer for natural gas which enabled expansion into Pictou County
• Largest supplier of sawlogs in Nova Scotia
• Producer of 23 MW of electricity daily with the majority
being green energy

• 330 full time employees
• 2,050 indirect jobs in Pictou County
• $315 million in economic contribution annually
• Over $10 million generated annually in tax revenue
• Nova Scotia’s largest purchaser of sawmill chips
• Largest exporter of containers with the Halifax Port
Authority (approximately 1,700 lEU monthly)

All environmental figures stated below are based on 2019
numbers as it was the last full year of operation.
• 92% of the mill’s energy comes from renewable sources
with 44% reduction in greenhouse gases since 1990
• 88% of our power use is self-generated green electricity
• Certified to Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) Forest Management Standard
• 6 million seedlings grown and planted annually
• One of Nova Scotia’s largest land managers, overseeing 250,000 hectares of forested lands in Nova Scotia
• NPNS has helped set aside over 60,000 hectares of high conservation value lands dedicated to permanent protection

• Robust health and safety program to help protect
• Strong community supporter through company and
employee driven programs and contributions
• Fire and emergency mutual aid community participant;
recently donated $25K towards community fire tanker
• Significant United Way campaign supporter

For an in depth history for the period  1967-2017, see Joan Baxter’s book The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, Pottersfield Press, 2017.

This item on the Halifax Examiner covers the more recent history:

The Halifax Examiner investigates: Northern Pulp

Halifax Examiner, May 27, 2024: “Joan Baxter literally wrote the book on Northern Pulp Mill — it’s called The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest. So it is Baxter who is both the originator and the go-to person for the Halifax Examiner’s reporting on all things Northern Pulp and on the broader forestry issues related to it…Since then, Baxter and the Examiner have reported on Northern Pulp as it worked its way through the creditor protector process, and most recently, the settlement agreement between the company and the province of Nova Scotia.
This page collects all that reporting in one place.