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 certainly 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 mary murphy on 25th 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. Early in the process Haisla were in negotiations with W/F, but unsure why. To this day no one from the haisla has informed me of their 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 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. •
Is it appropriate to cut down our trees and export them, providing jobs overseas, leave pulp logs to be burned...As long as royalties are paid...and the government gets their big stumpage check......
Comment by Anna -Marie Carstens on 24th July 2010
So, the writing has been on the wall for a very long time - the government et al have just been covering it up. Pretty typical of those in power, in my experience. The "viability study" was nothing but a costly appeasement strategy. Ditto all the so-called "consultation meetings" that the government and others have held on a variety of issues over the years - from school district amalgamation (NDP) to healthcare (Liberals). Most of the time those in power have made their minds up ahead of time. Democracy is nothing but a game to those in power. They try to see for how long they can fool the taxpayers.
Now that the coast is (quite literally) clear, Kitimat should jump at the opportunity to draw attention to the real wealth of this town: its excellent infrastructure and services, decidedly anti-big box store character, breathtaking natural beauty and incredible fishing and recreation opportunities. We should be renovating and upgrading camp grounds, not closing them down. It would be very nice if the government would throw a few million $ at us to really put this town on the map and draw investors. That is the least they can do.