The Nova Scotia Department of Environment says it is still investigating the Oct. 21 effluent leak from the Northern Pulp pipeline.
"We won't be able to provide information today on the size of the leak or what happened in this incident," said provincial spokesperson Rachel Boomer.
Boomer's comments have been made in response to calls for information from Friends of the Northumberland Strait, a group that is opposed to Northern Pulp's plan of disposing treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait.
"How much effluent leaked, what was the composition of the effluent, why was the pipe break undetected by the company, did the effluent reach the East River, is there any Federal involvement in the investigation — these are some of the questions we have," Jill Graham-Scanlan of Friends of the Northumberland Strait wrote in a media release sent out Feb. 5.
In June 2014 the same pipeline broke, spilling out 47 million litres effluent into nearby wetlands on Pictou Landing First Nation territory. The company pleaded guilty to a charge under the Federal Fisheries Act and was subsequently fined $225,000. In her comments, Boomer noted that department investigations into the 2014 took one year to complete.
"We would be happy to provide this information once the investigation is complete," said Boomer of the current investigation into the 2018 leak.
As for federal involvement, Boomer told The News in an email that there is none.
For their part, Northern Pulp says that the 2018 leak was "very small in size," and the result of a break in a fibreglass joint. Mill spokesperson Kathy Cloutier added this was the technology of the day in the 1960s and that the proposed new treatment facility will have fusion-welded joints that “are leak proof and as strong as the pipeline itself.”
According to Cloutier, the 2018 leak was “contained promptly and transported to the Boat Harbour facility where it was then treated and released into the Northumberland Strait via the existing system and route.”
As for whether Northern Pulp was in compliance with its industry approval requirements of regular pipeline inspections, Boomer said that a Northern Pulp report dated March 22 of last year indicated the pipeline inspection activities for 2017 were satisfactory.
With files from the Canadian Press