The province of Nova Scotia has backtracked on imposing steep cuts in water consumption at Northern Pulp, and has removed references in the mill's industrial approval detailing the company's role in finding a new wastewater treatment site.
The changes were made public Thursday in a letter by Environment Minister Randy Delorey that deals with Northern Pulp's appeal of conditions in its five-year approval.
"What has changed is there's been additional information included that's been made available to me that was reviewed as part of the record of the appeal process," Delorey said.
The new information came from consultants hired by the province and Northern Pulp.
The Pictou County pulp mill's owner has argued the conditions imposed this year by the province were "impossible to meet." It has even suggested the mill might have to close if the conditions weren't changed.
The Department of Environment says the minister has approved seven changes to the industrial approval. And a condition that required the mill to cut water use by more than 34 per cent over five years is also being reviewed.
New limits that impose an 80 per cent cut to emissions particulate matter remain in place.
Delorey also said the Boat Harbour wasterwater treatment plant will still close by 2020, as planned.
Northern Pulp has 30 days to launch a challenge of the minister's decision in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, if it chooses.
The province says the changes include:
Removing conditions related to a new effluent treatment facility that would have its own industrial approval.
Removing a condition calling for a plan to achieve further reductions in wastewater quality targets during the next approval period.
Removing a condition related to chemical phenanthrene sampling in groundwater, which is no longer required.
Removing a condition related to providing reports to Pictou Landing First Nation.