Boat Harbour is a complex issue with a long history. In fact, there was great opposition to Boat Harbour from the outset (see attached ‘Boat harbor Opposition 1966.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!). A Kings College Journalism Workshop in 2009 provided a series of investigative reports on the issue that are necessary reading to understand this issue and why it is so important. Essentially, our group is concerned because we contend that:
i) Pictou Landing residents have been treated unjustly,
ii) Boat Harbour is an environmental disaster; and,
iii) the NS government has indemnified the mill all responsibility for the cleanup, thus Nova Scotians bear the responsibility for site remediation.
There is a clear misuse of Boat Harbour as a treatment facility for the mill. The Province has been responsible for Boat Harbour since it opened in 1967. Originally, the Province (Conservative) was responsible for operating the treatment facility, but in December 1995, operations were transferred to the mill.
At the time of transfer of operating responsibility, the Province (Liberal) signed an indemnity agreement with the mill specifying that the province would retain sole responsibility for environmental damage and cleanup (see attached ‘Boat Harbour Indemnity Agreement.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!).
After a series of extensions for addressing Boat Harbour cleanup, in 2008 the Pictou Landing First Nations received written confirmation that the Province (Conservative) would begin cleanup and return Boat Harbour to a tidal state. However, the Province (NDP) would not honour the agreement signed by the previous government and although the mill did submit a cleanup plan to the Province, the Province would not release the plan or any of its details (see attached ‘Boat Harbour province re-negs on cleanup won’t release plan.pdf’ – PDF coming soon!). The Native community has a lawsuit pending against the province for this violation, but they have been unable to proceed due to the expense involved.
Besides the indisputable fact that Boat Harbour is being misused, the decades of toxins and harmful substances that have accumulated in the area have likely been detrimental to the health of the community. There is currently a health study underway with the Native community and it is important that the work of our group not compromise the efforts already underway in the community. There are non-Native residents of Pictou Landing who have also been subjected to the same harmful effects of the mill and the Boat Harbour treatment facility.
Boat Harbour must be cleaned up.
The province is responsible for site remediation whether that occurs today or in the future, but given the obvious harm to the environment and the suspected harm to human health, that cleanup should begin soon. This group therefore aims to support the Pictou Landing community in reclaiming Boat Harbour. To that end, our group has met with Pictou Landing First Nations and we are working together to build trust and demonstrate our commitment in achieving that goal.