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Lunenburg, province won't reveal sewage testing results

The Lunenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant has been shutdown due to flooding resulting from Hurricane Dorian.
The Lunenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant has been shutdown due to flooding resulting from Hurricane Dorian. - Josh Healey
HALIFAX, N.S. —

Raw sewage is no longer being funnelled into Lunenburg harbour but neither the town nor the province can provide proof that Lunenburg’s wastewater treatment plant is up to scratch.

The Environment Department, which is responsible for ensuring that the effluent leaving the plant and entering the harbour meets guidelines,  said on Tuesday said the plant is still in need of upgrades and is not meeting guidelines.  But the department would not provide the latest test results of the treated sewage or say what guidelines the plant isn’t meeting. 

Progressive Conservative Environment critic Brad Johns said those test results ought to be made public to residents. 

"The department should release those numbers so people have a sense of confidence to know what’s happening," said Johns. 

“It’s utmost important to be open and honest with the constituents of that area so that people can make informed decisions, whether that’s fishers using the harbour or someone walking along the shoreline. People need to know.”

Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said on Wednesday that department staff are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis with the town.  He advised The Chronicle Herald to obtain test results from the town. Wilson couldn’t say when the treatment plant would be back to normal but maintained that raw sewage is no longer entering the harbour.

Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey said several pieces of equipment at the plant needed to be either fixed or replaced since the treatment plant was overwhelmed by the effects of hurricane Dorian. 

She said sewage has been redirected to the plant in the last couple of weeks. The town still needs an ultraviolet disinfection process system for the plant, said Bailey. But she said the system should be installed soon and predicted the plant would be up and running normally late next week.

Bailey said she didn’t have access to the latest effluent test results.

“I don’t know what they are and we get them at a month at a time, so I don’t have any numbers to share,” said Bailey.

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