Bowater cleanup costs a "worst case senario"

Nick Moase
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The province is standing by their estimated cleanup costs for the Bowater mill site. 

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On Dec. 14 the province released their report on the potential contamination of the lands on the mill property. The conclusion was there is likely some contaminants in the ground, and would cost $8.75 million to clean up.

However no cleanup or further testing on the site needs to be done because it will remain as an industrial operation, says Peter McLaughlin, director of communication at the Bowater Project Office.

Any contamination on the site is contained, says McLaughlin, with little potential to escape.

"The Liverpool site was a well managed site, and we're confident that all the protections are in place to safeguard the surrounding area," he says.

Joel MacLean, chief operating officer for crown corporation Nova Scotia Lands Inc., says the report was made based on what was historically located on the site in the past. For example one part of the site had oil tanks, which were removed in the 1990's. There is no evidence of a spill, says MacLean, but a cleanup cost for a spill is included in the total estimate.

"What we did is assume there were issues," says MacLean.

The cost is what Nova Scotia Lands considers a worst-case senior if the site had to be decommissioned completely. The province would be responsible for any cleanup costs.

The report from AMEC Earth & Infrastructure ordered by the province confirmed the findings in the report by Nova Scotia Lands. The report also recommended further testing for other contaminants.

MacLean says they don't need to do more testing, because the site will continue to be used for industrial purposes. Some of the site testing would require tearing down buildings they would rather use, he adds. However, even if the site was decommissioned he does not believe it will escalate it cost as it has in Newfoundland. After the Resolute mill in Grand-Falls Windsor Newfoundland closed, the province expropriated by the provincial government.

"We feel pretty confident the cleanup numbers are not going to be beyond that," he says.

Though Newfoundland is facing over $100 million for a cleanup around their paper mill, MacLean says they are different situations.

"The Newfoundland numbers were for multiple sites. Also their Phase 1 reports were quite telling," he says.

The Newfoundland sites contain serious contamination of PCB's and arsenic among other things.

The Nova Scotia report can be found at


Water supply will continue

The Nickerson Pond Dam was also part of the assets purchased by the province. The dam still provides water to a few dozen homes along Brooklyn Shore Road, according to their report, which the province will continue. However they are looking towards changing that in the future.

"We'll be working on a longer term solution for those families," says McLaughlin.

The municipality has been extending the water and sewer line through Brooklyn over the past few years, with the eventual intention of connecting to Brooklyn Shore Road. McLaughlin says they are meeting with the Region to see what options there are to help with that. 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Lands, Bowater Project Office

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Liverpool, Brooklyn Nova Scotia

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