The quality of air in Pictou County is not up to the required health standards in part due to the Northern Pulp mill. Moreover, many residents are demanding that the company improves the plant air emissions immediately or close down. However, Northern Pulp has continuously stated its intention to comply with environmental regulations and reduce air pollution. Therefore, this paper will discuss the Northern Pulp case and the complications that come with it. In order to be successful in this endeavor, I have divided this paper into three sections. The first section deals with the histories of both Northern Pulp and Pictou County. The second section will discuss the environmental situation especially the air quality in Pictou County, who are the stakeholders and their perspectives, alternative solutions, and finally the best solution for the management. The final section will expound on my personal perspective about the problem.
Describing the Situation
Northern Pulp Company
The Northern Pulp company is a paper manufacturer company that during its peak years between the year 1970 and 1980 produced more than 16.4 percent of the newsprint that was made in American. 2011 the name of the company was changed after being taken over by Georgia-Pacific Company in 1990. The company produces more than 280,000 tones of pulp, which are basically for export every year, therefore, supporting a lot of jobs throughout the whole of Nova Scotia (Manufacturing: Northern Pulp).
Northern Pulp as a paper manufacturing company has employed directly 300 people and has created almost two thousand jobs in northern and central Nova Scotia. Additionally, per annum, the company is able to inject a total of $231 million into the economy of Nova Scotia through wages, purchased goods, raw materials, as well as salaries. Further, the company through purchasing bark and chips makes a lot of revenue for around 15 Nova Scotia sawmills. In order to products to the market, Northern Pulp is recognized as one of the largest shippers of containers conjunction with Halifax Ports Authority. As part of their social responsibility, the company will construct or rebuild about 350 kilometers of public roads. Furthermore, annually at the nursery in Debert Northern Pulp grows six million trees (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
This company manufactures northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK), which is also known as kraft pulp. This product is usually derived from wood fiber and is utilized in all paper products. Moreover, the company is a major supplier of pulp worldwide for the manufacture of household goods including towels, tissues, as well as toilet papers, photocopy, and writing paper (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
History of the Mill
Northern Pulp was established in 1967 in Abercrombie Point, Pictou County. In trying to keep up with the available technology, social expectations, and environmental regulations, the company has continued to advance as well as upgrade its levels of operations. In addition, the facility was purchased by Paper Excellence Canada on May 12, the year 2011. Ever since that time, Paper Excellence has tremendously invested more than 157 million dollars into the operation. Moreover, apart from the investment of Paper Excellence, the province of Nova Scotia has also undertaken a lot of efforts as well as commitments towards the mill’s future through repayable loans totaling 108.3 million dollars. Thus, with the completion of many projects, the company has returned its business to profitability in a very competitive environment. With the demand, growth, and sales of kraft pulp increasing coupled with investments in the company the future of Northern Pulp is promising (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
The ownership of the company has changed over the years and has included Kimberly-Clerk Corporation, Neenah paper Company of Canada, Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Company, Atlas Holdings and Blue Wolf Capital management, and presently Paper Excellence Canada Holdings company.
The paper, as well as pulp industry, comprises manufacturing companies or mills that predominantly convert wood from trees into a wide variety of products including paperboards, pulps, as well as papers. The paper industry in Canada began in the 1980s and it has been undergone a metamorphosis in the subsequent years. The pulp, as well as the paper industry, remains a very fundamental aspect in Nova Scotia’s economy and in Canada at large. The level of competition within Nova Scotia for the production of paper and pulp is so high, with many companies such as Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company generating significant competition in the market. Therefore, the Northern Pulp Company has had to undergo very stiff levels of competition in the paper as well as pulp industry, as many of the competing companies fight for supremacy and large shares of the market (Boreal forest website).
The company, Nova Scotia, produces its products including the Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp through the use of wood fiber from sustainable and well-managed Scotian forests. The company has and manages approximately 600,000 acres of land. The company is also certified to many other third-party forestries as well as environmental standards which include the sustainable forestry initiative (Ridley-Thomas and Bebb, “Report: Forest Certification”).
The company is able to supply over 30 percent of the round wood to many of the major sawmills within central Nova Scotia in addition to purchasing approximately 90 percent of the chips that are produced within the province. Irrespective of the many challenges that Northern Pulp Company has gone through over the past years, it has been able to thrive successfully with excellent work for its workers as well as contractors. The company has been able to reduce its costs significantly while at the same time enhancing its reliability, thus leading to the second-best mill in its 46 years history. Also, there have been a number of significant and definite high points as the mill continued to be impacted negatively through the high Canadian dollar as well as depressed global prices of pulp, which resulted or contributed to the ongoing financial setbacks. However, the company is highly committed to developing a high value, sustainable, as well as integrated forest sector in Nova Scotia and working closely with other businesses, contractors, as well as employees in order to strengthen the company’s supply chain, increase its cost efficiency as well as create employment opportunities in the rural Nova Scotia (Beswick, “Northern Pulp set production record just after effluent leak”).
The company also needs to execute and undertake many of the improvement initiatives that are identified as part of the company’s business sustainability roadmap, which comprises bringing the company’s natural gas facility as well as constructing an on-site chip plant. The company is also supposed to reduce the cost of goods manufactured internationally as this will be a very vital step towards realizing the long-term survival of the business. Furthermore, the company has in place a number of plans that will allow it to achieve this particular goal (Beswick, “Northern Pulp set production record just after effluent leak”).
The organizational structure at Northern Pulp is very dynamic and diversified. The management structure of the company comprises the company directors, president, vice-president, chief executive officer (CEO), municipality of Pictou, and the community of Pictou. The chief executive officer (CEO) is in charge of the day-to-day running of the company and therefore the general manager reports directly to him. Under the general manager are many other departmental managers such as engineering managers, and maintenance managers among other departmental managers. The leadership of this company has been cited to be a bit moderate, but one that has undergone ups and downs over the past years. For instance, due to the emissions that the company has contributed to the surrounding environment as well as because of high pressures from both the country and people, the management of the company has been forced to look for ways in order to eliminate or reduce this problem. In effect, the management has been considerably successful in coming up with new measures in order to reduce the levels of emissions to the environment, which as a result indicates that the leadership within this company is better and considerate. The management has also instigated a culture of hard work and commitment among its employees, who have also seen the company grow tremendously.
Contribution of the Northern Pulp to the Community
For more than two years now, the Northern Pulp has been closely working with Nova Scotia’s department of natural resources on fiber as well as mill initiatives, which will ultimately ensure that the long-term sustainability of the company and the economic benefit of the community, especially the rural Nova Scotia and the larger province are achieved or realized (Environment: Northern Pulp).
Moreover, since taking the leadership of the Northern Pulp in 2011, the Paper Excellence has greatly invested a total of 100 million dollars in order to cover the mill’s operational levels of costs as well as to modernize the company’s operations so as to return to profitability in addition to realizing its full potential. The company has been seen performing as well in playing a very critical role towards the transformation of the economy of Nova Scotia. The company is also focusing on exports in which the demand for its products is growing, for instance, in the year 2012 the company was the largest forest product exporter in Nova Scotia (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
The company’s economic contribution to the society of Nova Scotia is very enormous. Currently, the company has almost 300 employees who work in the mill with an additional 400 employees working in the forest. The company contributes to approximately 1,700 job opportunities to the Nova Scotia residents who have continued to enjoy the benefits of the company through leading better lives. In addition, the company injects over 2.5 million dollars every month into the provincial economy through salaries as well as wages. Worth noting too is that the company purchases goods and services worth 800 million dollars annually and further, spends more than 130 million dollars each year on woodland activities (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
Moreover, the company plays a fundamental role in giving value to the forests of Nova Scotia as it is among the major buyers of trees in this area. The company works in close cooperation with many of the Nova Scotia sawmills, thus supplying them with over 30 percent of all their wood needs as well as buying back much of their by-products such as chips and hog fuel. Therefore, this is marked as a strategic income stream, which is very important to sustainability. In addition, this helps in ensuring that the forest products are utilized to the highest value and benefit of every participant (Manufacturing: Northern Pulp).
The aforementioned activities give livelihoods to most of the rural communities and people of Nova Scotia. The company further, intends to continue with its efforts to sharing information as well as hear comments from the people of Pictou County, far beyond the existing public consultation program.
History of Pictou County
The county of Pictou is situated in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. This County was established in 1835. It is worth noting that from 1959 this county was part of Halifax County until 1835 when they were separated. The country has experienced a decline in the population of about 6.3 percent from 1993 to 2006 as its population is approximately 46,513 people at present. However, in Nova Scotia province, Pictou County ranks sixth among populous towns.
The genesis of the name “Pictou” is unclear or unknown. In terms of politics, the county or town of Pictou is within the federal electoral district of Central Nova and the county has previously been represented federally by the conservative members of parliament since the year 1957. The year between 1993 as well as 1997 marked the exception when a member of parliament from the Liberal side was elected to parliament. Furthermore, the municipality of the county of Pictou serves many of the rural areas and villages of Nova Scotia, including the villages in Pictou Island. Services provided by the County include planning, waste disposal, and development for the communities within Nova Scotia province.
In terms of the economy of the county, its resource base industries comprise fishing, coal mining, agriculture, as well as forestry. The manufacturing industries within the county of Pictou comprise Northern Pulp and Scotsburn diary. In addition, tourism is also an important part of the county’s economy during summer. For instance, in the year 2006, tourism contributed to the creation of about 1200 job opportunities for the people of Pictou and generated around 45 million dollars for the economy of the county. Additionally, there are approximately 2,400 small and medium-sized businesses operating within the county of Pictou, which collectively manage to generate a total of more than 15,000 job opportunities in the county. In addition to this, the county of Pictou works together with many of the businesses in order to stimulate growth as well as the development of the county, especially in developing the economic infrastructure and community strategic planning for the county.
In this section, I will examine the environmental crisis that has arisen as a result of emissions from the Northern Pulp plant in Pictou. Smoke emitted by the company has been claimed to thicken and cover the whole harbor. Also, the odor and emission from the factory have been claimed to because of the high rate of cancer in the region (Andreatta, “In Nova Scotia town, residents fight local mill’s pollution”). The latest tests from the plant in Pictou have shown that it is still not meeting the emission requirements of the government. For instance, when samples were taken from the mill’s power boiler, lime kiln, dissolving tank, and recovery boiler. It was observed particulate emitted from the recovery boiler was higher than tolerable standards while the boiler’s particulate readings were also above the guidelines (“Northern Pulp mill still not meeting emission guidelines” CBC news).
In order to address the aforementioned environmental challenges, Northern Pulp Company since the year 2011 has greatly invested over 157 million dollars in the mill in order to ensure efficiency, safety, as well as high levels of productivity. Furthermore, the company makes a regular payment on all the provincial loans as well as that the company has paid approximately 19.8 million dollars in interest.
Furthermore, In order to tackle environmental problems associated with the company, Northern Pulp has undertaken the following projects including the construction of a chip plant so as to reduce tree wastes, the installation of natural gas to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce oil dependency. Furthermore, the mill has modified a power boiler Scrubber or filter in order to cut the levels of particulate emissions and also reduce the sulfur compounds found in the emissions through installing new equipment (Public consultation: Northern Pulp).
The Northern Pulp Company has also invested heavily in the reduction of emissions and air pollution. The company has undertaken the following steps in addressing the environmental concerns: The power boiler has been upgraded which has enabled a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide emissions. Also, has been able to increase the amount of clean energy that it generates thus, uses in the mill (Environment: Northern Pulp). In the last 12 months, there has been increasing in the recycling of wastes that are being used for the production of electricity. This has been done through improving the evaporation plant, pulp washing machine, and recovery boiler operation. Additionally, improvements in the factory’s odor system have enabled the cutting down of odor emitted into the environment. This shows that is a continuous effort in improving the mill equipment in order to reduce environmental pollution (Environment: Northern Pulp).
Identifying and Describing the Stakeholders and Their Perspectives
The stakeholder groups
The company’s stakeholders are many and diversified and the majority of them determine the course of the company. These stakeholders are either internal or external depending on how directly or indirectly they affect the company’s business. They include company directors, president, vice-president, suppliers, creditors, municipality of Pictou, the community of Pictou, departmental managers, employees, customers, as well as the chief executive officer (CEO). Other stakeholders of Northern Pulp also include the government, industry trade groups, investors, shareholders, professional associations, and competitors.
Describing the Stakeholder Groups
The employees are the wider stakeholder group and are generally agreed that they are the core components or prime stakeholders of any particular company given their description of work. Shareholders are fundamentally the first stakeholders of a company. The management, on the other hand, is highly controversial even though they are believed to form a strong group of a company’s stakeholders. Managers are always under pressure and have the responsibility of meeting the demands of the shareholders by making sure the company is financially healthy.
Creditors are those people who lend the company money and they also form an important group of stakeholders since they sustain a company’s financial health. Trade unions are also part of a company’s stakeholders since trade unions are a very important component used by the employee group for championing their rights and grievances. In addition, customers are also regarded to be very important stakeholders since they buy most of the products produced by companies.
Perspectives of the different Stakeholders
The stakeholders of Northern Pulp share a commitment to the objective of improving the air quality in Pictou County. The stakeholders unanimously agree that the level and quality of air in the county of Pictou needs to be improved. Many of the stakeholders have severally cited the issue of personal commitment to the process as well as desire in order to seek a consensus-based action plan.
The levels of emissions from the Northern Pulp company not only exceeds the government regulations as noted by the society, but the company is also two years late in its efforts to meet a condition in its operating permit from the Nova Scotia province. Moreover, as part of the company’s approval back in the year 2011, it was required to undertake an air quality study as well as install ambient air quality in order to measure particulate, conditions that have documented by the province’s media as one that is urgent to be addressed in order to ensure the protection of the environment. In addition, the county’s environmental department says it had extended the deadline for the company to repair a non-working scrubber that was associated with the high levels of pollution (“Northern Pulp mill still not meeting emission guidelines” CBC news).
The local government of Nova Scotia through its environmental minister and other regulatory agencies has also been exerting pressure on Northern Pulp to cut down on its emission and other pollutants that it releases into the atmosphere. There have been a collection of data which indicates that the emissions have been reduced but still, the government insists that more have to be done in order to protect the environment and most importantly the health of the residents of Nova Scotia (“Northern Pulp mill still not meeting emission guidelines” CBC news). The government has also welcomed the new equipment acquired by the company in its effort to cut down on emissions. This has been one of the conditions stated by the government before the company is given the approval to operate in the area. In addition, to help Northern Pulp be profitable and also be able to manage pollution the government of Nova Scotia has extended loans to the company which has helped the company stay afloat in these difficult times.
The management, on the other hand, believes that the company is trying to do some things in order to address the problems that are happening as a result of the company’s operation. However, the community also believes that the major reason as to why the company is trying to make such efforts in fixing some of the problems is due to the public pressure that is mounting on the company’s negligence. Residents of Pictou have demonstrated willingness and support for the maintenance of a sustainable environment. The acting general manager of Northern Pulp, Don Breen states that although the company’s employees are very hardworking and highly committed to safety. The company has been in existence since the year 1967, and attaining the level of selling unique services and products, is without endless efforts.
Identifying the Alternative Solutions
As managers, the management team should come up with easy ways in order to control the level of emissions into the atmosphere so that the company reduces pollution on the environment. A clean environment would ensure that everyone is okay and stays in harmony. This means that managers being important stakeholders of the company have been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that both the company’s operations and the people’s lives do not come into conflict.
The ongoing consultations between the different stakeholders should continue and be held regularly. This will enable the company to gain inputs from the community at the same time company will be able to communicate to the community its efforts to reduce pollution and at the same time what it is doing and what it plans to do in the future. When there is a constructive dialogue between Northern pulp and the residents of Pictou County more efforts can be taken together to address the concerns of each part leading to amicable settlements.
Personal Perspective on the issue
My perspective on this issue is that there is a need to look at this issue from a holistic viewpoint, which is, weigh the benefits that accrue to the residents through the existence of the company and also the environmental sustainability.
First, there is a need to find a balance between employment opportunities provided by Northern Pulp and the environmental consequences of running the mill. Northern Pulp being a major employer in Nova Scotia is important in the economy and lives of the local people in this area. There is a need to create more employment for the local communities and improve the lives of the residents. As part of its social responsibility Northern Pulp has invested in the wellbeing of the local community in Pictou County such as building a wellness Centre that offers sports, business, and educational opportunities for the residents. The company also supports community programs through donations to specific projects initiated by the Pictou County community.
The company in collaboration with the provincial government, environmentalists, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) especially those involved in the conservation of forests has created protected forest areas that will be for the benefit of the community. To support this initiative the company has allocated land and also accepted to be part of the board that manages this conservation (Partnership: Northern Pulp).
To help in the education of young people in the local communities, Northern Pulp offers scholarships to children of its employees. This is to enable these students to pursue any diploma or degree program at any college or university. Additionally, the company supports high achievers in the field of education by offering monetary awards for their educational needs.
The company also donates seedlings to support kids’ programs aimed at raising environmental awareness and tree planting. The company also organizes tours at its Debert nursery where students are taught how to care for the seedlings, and harvest. Moreover, in terms of air pollution, the company has tried to reduce the odor that contains sulfur compounds from the mill (Environment: Northern Pulp).
My second perspective is that of the health, environmental and other concerns of Pictou residents. There are higher incidences of diseases such as cancer and lung infections which are a concern to all the residents of Pictou County. All these diseases and ill health have been linked to the emissions produced by Northern Pulp.
Additionally, there are have been reported complaints of local entrepreneurs about the effect of the factory on their businesses. The smell and emissions from the mill discourage tourism to Pictou County as the seafront is cover by thick clouds of smoke. Additionally, it has been claimed that the value of the real estate in the County has gone down. The factory’s water wastes may be hazardous to the fish. Research has shown that even treated wastes contain chemicals that are still toxic to aquatic life (McMaster et al., 330; Munkittrick et al., 70). Moreover, the amount of water needed daily which is approximately 100 liters is an enormous resource. However, the monetary value of the losses to business and entrepreneurship has not yet been calculated.
This paper has discussed the Northern Pulp case and the complications that come with it. Although, Northern Pulp is a major employer in Pictou County the amount of pollution that it is causing has raised concerns among the residents of the County. Thus, the paper examined the environmental situation especially the quality of air which does not meet the required standards by the government regulators. The paper also examined the stakeholders and their different perspectives and alternative solution to the problem. Finally, I expounded on my personal perspective as a stakeholder.
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