The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)

Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

  • Mar. 7, 2021 6:00 a.m.

BY DEBRA LYNN

Port Alice’s dead pulp mill isn’t being demolished, it is being recycled.

The former Neucel Specialty Cellulose mill is under control of a court-appointed receiver, Price Waterhouse Coopers. PWC is overseeing three ongoing tasks: de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

According to PWC vice-president Lucas Matsuda, it will take “a number of years to fully clean up” the mill site.

Matsuda outlined that de-risking involves includes the identification, removal and/or disposal of hazardous chemicals and proper storage of materials.

It also includes moving equipment and materials away from the water, clearing paths and roadways and treating an infestation of knotweed. Dangerous structural issues are either repaired or removed. For this process, PWC has employed a number of North Island businesses.

In the category of water treatment, crews are testing and treating the water collected on site and shipping more corrosive water offsite for disposal. Environmental monitoring includes monitoring water levels around the site to ensure that treated water is compliant with various permits.

Although the stage of the environmental recovery is not known, according to Matsuda, “since the mill shut down in 2015, marine life has commenced returning to Neroutsos Inlet.”

“All of the material that is leaving the site is disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Whenever possible, material is being separated and recycled,” Matsuda said.

PWC says it prioritizes awarding contracts to companies that use environmentally sound disposal practices. Any salvage that has cash value is invested into further work on the site.

Approximately 25 people are involved with the mill site cleanup; 90 per cent are from the Tri-Port area or Vancouver Island. Out-of-town workers stay in the Tri-Port area.

“Strict COVID-19 protocols are in place for all out-of-town workers,” Matsuda said

As an active industrial area, the site is patrolled 24/7 by an on-site security service. They patrol the site, identify and report dangerous events, maintain safety precautions and ensure that anyone entering is authorized to do so and abiding by COVID-19 protocols.

“Our COVID-19 protocols meet or exceed government and WorkSafeBC requirements, whether it is questionnaires and temperature readings to enter the site, keeping our work area sanitized (this includes shared equipment) or negative COVID-19 test results for individuals coming from out of province,” Matsuda said. “We are pleased that we have experienced no COVID-19 incidents and we aim to continue in this fashion.”

The security measures also contribute to keeping mill’s state of transformation carefully under wraps: Black Press Media was not even allowed in to take a photo.

Future plans for the mill site, Matsuda said, have not been determined.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Abandoned mill to cost at least $17 million to decommission

RELATED: Pulp mill creditors unlikely to get paid


Have a story tip? Email: editor@northislandgazette.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Bankruptciesinfrastructure

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A donated towel warms a merlin chick. Photo supplied
MARS Moment: 2021 shaping up to be a record-setting year for animal rescues

Submitted by Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press With the pandemic,… Continue reading

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

File photo of Gord Johns during World Oceans Day.
Courtenay-Alberni MP outlines priorities for federal budget

Universal pharmacare, affordable housing and Pacific wild salmon are some of the… Continue reading

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Volunteers sort through bottles and cans during Saturday's fundraiser for hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley hospice holds drive-through bottle drive

Bike team is fundraising for the annual Cycle of Life tour on Vancouver Island

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as executive vp academic and chief operating officer. Photo supplied
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

North Island College’s new president, Lisa Domae, kicked off her first official… Continue reading

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read