Irving Pulp & Paper (IPP) of Saint John will pay a $3.5 Million penalty related to 3 counts of effluent discharges into the Saint John River, subject to court approval today (October 9). The Crown and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) acknowledge there was no evidence of any fish mortality or environmental harm in the river at the time. However, the company did fail the prescribed test under Section 3 of the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations (under the Fisheries Act) that requires 50% or more of rainbow trout tested to survive 96 hours in 100% effluent.
IPP has worked hard to meet and exceed all environmental regulations. The company pioneered and patented the world’s first reverse osmosis system in a pulp mill in 1998 to meet new environmental regulations at the time. This technology and others were part of an investment of over $250 million to avoid the installation of an effluent treatment facility that the mill’s neighbours did not want. This pollution prevention system collects, treats and discharges effluent within the pulp mill, re-uses treated effluent and minimizes final effluent volume and content. The company was internationally recognized for this effort and the discoveries by research teams, including those from the University of New Brunswick, who determined the positive impacts of the system on fish health.
Although the mill has operated under the current protocol for over 20 years, environmental regulations continue to change. The Inspector’s Direction issued by ECCC, which was a condition to the proposed court agreement, will require the company to install a multi-million-dollar effluent treatment facility as a condition to operate. This facility will be engineered and built in compliance with agreed timelines. The company will provide regular updates to ECCC on its ongoing efforts to implement the plan.
“This is a tough day for the entire team of over 375 people at IPP. We live and work here. We care about and are active in our community. Safeguarding the environment has been and continues to be our top priority,” said Mark Mosher, Vice President of IPP. “We respect the decision of the court and will ensure the mill meets the stringent guidelines established within its operating guidelines. We are pleased that some of the penalty will be dedicated to wild Atlantic salmon conservation and research.”