REPORTING · 23rd July 2010
Merv Ritchie, Walter McFarlane
In a stunning new development, it has been revealed through confidential correspondence that not only did the government know that Eurocan would never restart, they purposefully mislead the entire Northwest region by funding a doomed viability study. The BC Government has literally thrown money into the furnace, and encouraging others to do the same by raising false hopes and dreams with the residents of Kitimat and Terrace.
It is apparent from the correspondence that the pollution released from the West Frasier Eurocan facility has been a great concern of the Ministry of the Environment and the Haisla Nation. In fact, the operation of the mill by West Frasier required compensation to be paid for the continued operation due to their environmental degradation.
When West Frasier announced the closure of the Eurocan Mill in 2009, the Haisla Nation immediately wrote to Barry Penner and the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that the entire Eurocan operation would be shut down safely and securely to protect the waters and the Oolichan fisheries. The Haisla also provided previous correspondence with the Ministry which outlined their concerns over the decline of the Oolichan fisheries for four decades.
Without the cooperation and the understanding of the Haisla Nation, the people of the Village of Kitamaat, the Ministry of the Environment and other concerned entities, the entire concept of restarting the pulp and paper mill in the District of Kitimat was questionable at best.
The documents released today show not just negligence but a deliberate and malicious effort on the part of the Provincial Government, Minister Pat Bell, Minister Barry Penner and the entire administration of the BC Provincial Government to disregard the hard working, devoted, committed citizens of the Northwest.
The Eurocan Viability Group, which consisted of: District of Kitimat, The Local CEP 298, Envision Financial and many others, were deceived in such a manner by the participation of both the Ministry of Forests, (with their donation to the study) and by Northern Development Trust, another bureaucratic government body, which also funded the study, it might be considered treacherous but was most cerainly unethical.
The viability report released by the professionals, Pöyry Forest Industry Consulting Inc, seem to be implicated as well as it would be an obvious first step to speak with the local first nations. If they did speak to the Haisla and did not relate their concerns (nothing was mentioned in the first released report) it would be negligence, if they did not speak to the Haisla it would also be negligence.
There is very little more to be said to describe and nothing to explain the outrageous and unforgivable exercise the Provincial Government allowed the community to engage in without providing a cautionary note to those involved. The government knew full well that the obstacles to the resumption of operation of the Eurocan mill site would require much, much, more then simply a purchaser. The entire facility would need to be completely replaced.
We have attached below, copies of the correspondence exchanged between the government, the ministers and the Haisla. This is not an issue of the Haisla vs. the community. Many workers at the mill, native and non native, express great relief at the closure of the mill as they all enjoy the immediately noticeable recovery of the foreshore and the waters in the Kitimat Harbour. Most who worked there were well aware of the extensive pollution resulting from the operation of the old technology in the Eurocan Facility. The outfall of pollution into the river was obvious to those close to the operation and the monitoring of the facility.
The Government knew it, the Haisla knew it, the workers knew it but no entity took the honest step of apprising the Viability Group of the seriousness or the correspondence associated with the discussions of the problems.
Comment by les wamough on 29th July 2010
If the Campbell government did something to ensure the closure of the Kitimat mill is not for me to say, what I have to say is that they DID NOTHING to prevent the closure and did nothing to get it restarted.. Their forest policies have closed all the milling facilities in our region, and Mr Bell forest minister is congratulating himself for restarting McKenzie. WHAT about us? I could go on and on. les.
Comment by mary murphy on 24th July 2010
Meetings with the haisla from november on were attempted by me even before the viability group was formed. If the correspondences received was from the haisla it would have been a benefit for them to meet early in the process with me/or the viability group regarding the eurocan mill and the attempts to restart. To this day no one from the haisla has informed me of thier attempts to keep Eurocan from being sold or restarting. Its important for the public to know that the renewed eurocan would be a much smaller model which would have less of an environmental impact.
Also west fraser spend millions of dollars dollars improving the effluent system, and daily monitoring. I believe that over the last several years no compensation for tainting was made to the haisla as a result of the improvements.
The tainting and reduction of the ooligan is an issue. I am lead to believe there is a reduction all over the coast and this needs to be investigated. We need to stay together in our quest for improvements in the area not just for one group but for all. That is why its important to know and discuss each problem as they arise and deal with them.
Its unfortunate that now...when were are at the most focused on securing an investor that this type information comes forward to the media.