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P.E.I. Opposition renews call for further Northern Pulp environmental assessment

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Opposition MLA Darlene Compton stressed Friday that the provincial government must continue to fight the proposed Northern Pulp pipe.

The proposed treatment project would pump between 70 and 90 million litres of treated effluent each day from the Abercrombie pulp mill into the Northumberland Strait starting in 2020.

An existing treatment facility at Boat Harbour has been ordered closed by the Nova Scotia provincial government.

Compton brought the matter up during question period in the legislature, first asking Premier Wade MacLauchlan to bring the legislature up to speed on when he last talked to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna about the issue.

“I wrote to Catherine McKenna back in the spring when this issue was on everyone’s mind and wrote at the same time to the premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil, and was very clear on the record in terms of Prince Edward Island’s concerns, our government’s concerns (and) my personal concern about this matter and they’re well aware of those,’’ MacLauchlan said.

Compton said it’s imperative that the project be the subject of a federal environmental review, not one done by the province of Nova Scotia which spent $6 million towards project design costs.

Compton called that “a glaring conflict of interest’’ and asked the premier if he has spoken to McNeil lately.

RELATED: Northern Pulp pipeline could harm herring spawning beds, say P.E.I. fishermen

MacLauchlan said the two men have talked.

“It’s our very clear view the matter should be addressed from an environmental assessment perspective through the federal jurisdiction and the federal process,’’ the premier said. “The premier of Nova Scotia is well aware of Prince Edward Island’s position on this matter.’’

The premier added that the key line in his letter to McKenna and McNeil is the province does not support the pipe proposal as submitted.

Compton then asked MacLauchlan if he’s had any response from the federal minister. All the premier would say to that is he did and that it was tabled in the spring.

Compton said a lot has happened since then and suggested the premier get back in touch with the feds again.

MacLauchlan said he was set to meet Dominic LeBlanc, federal minister of intergovernmental affairs, on Friday and planned to bring the issue up.

Compton said time is of the essence.

“We know that by law the pipe is to be in the strait by 2020,’’ she said. “That’s only 14 months away.’’

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