The MOE Director issued a section 18 Order to five companies and
three individuals to cleanup outstanding environmental issues at an
old paper mill in Thunder Bay. The old Cascades paper mill
has extensive contamination, and has been the subject of
years of environmental orders and appeals. The provincial Ministry of Finance
also seems to have put up millions in public money in two failed
attempts to restart the mill.
The mill had had many owners and operators since 1918; the
orderees were the last four companies who owned the site (one
insolvent and one dissolved); the parent company of one owner, and
the presidents and COO of the last two owners. The six remaining
orderees appealed to the Tribunal. Following lengthy mediation, the
Environmental Review Tribunal conditionally
approved terms of settlement and amended the Order.
Under the settlement, the current mill owner, Superior Fine
Papers Inc., agreed to undertake additional remediation, demolish
the mill, and decommission the wastewater lagoon and waste disposal
site. It will get some of the money by selling all its equipment.
Its lender agreed to put up $2,324,653.98 in financial assurance
for the cleanup, likely because the province gave up $2 million in
security claims over the mill and related assets. MOE also allowed
the lagoon to be decommissioned by dumping its contents in the old
landfill, before applying final cover.
The individuals were released from the Order. It is not known
whether they had to contribute financially to the settlement, nor
how much has been paid by the previous owner, Cascades, under the previous order against
The bottom line is that the province now has $2.3 m in financial
assurance, mostly paid for by giving up its claim to recover the
provincial money used by a different ministry to prop up the
failing mill. Hopefully, this FA will be enough to empty the
leaking lagoon, close the old landfill, and tear down the mill, and
we won't read any more cases about this long-running site. I
wonder if, over its lifetime, the mill put enough into the
community to make up for the soil and water contamination that it
caused, and the forests that it consumed?
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