Taxpayers unlikely to foot entire bill for Northern Pulp plant: minister - InfoNews

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Taxpayers unlikely to foot entire bill for Northern Pulp plant: minister

The Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation mill is seen in Abercrombie, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
March 29, 2018 - 1:33 PM

HALIFAX - Although a cost is yet to be attached to a new effluent treatment facility for the Northern Pulp mill, Nova Scotia's infrastructure minister said Thursday that it's unlikely provincial taxpayers will foot the entire bill.

Lloyd Hines told reporters the province would have to pay a portion of the cost of a new facility, but he couldn't say how much.

He acknowledged there could be a scenario in which taxpayers cover the full cost, but said it was unlikely.

"It could be, but again that's just speculation at this point in time," he said. "It's highly unlikely that the province will be on the hook for the entirety of the solution."

Legislation passed in 2015 requires the cleanup of the current treatment site at nearby Boat Harbour by 2020.

An indemnity agreement signed with the mill's former owner in 1995 appears to put the entire cost of the treatment facility on the province.

But Hines said that was part of the "process of the past."

"In the present we look at partnering, we look at sharing liability ... and we have lots of people that can participate in this particular solution," he said.

Hines said the government is negotiating with the mill to find a way where the province won't have to pay the entire bill.

In an email, Kathy Cloutier, director of communications for the mill's owner, Paper Excellence, said the company "fully expects the Government of Nova Scotia to honour its contractual obligations."

Cloutier added talks have yet to take place around funding.

"Northern Pulp and owner Paper Excellence are fully committed to undertaking all measures within our ability to ensure there is a new treatment facility in operation by January 2020."

Progressive Conservative interim leader Karla MacFarlane said more information should be made public about possible implications for taxpayers.

MacFarlane said there should have been some word in the two years since the cleanup legislation was passed.

"We don't have an update on what the project to date entails," she said. "Someone must know the answer."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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