The Samoa Pulp Mill was built in 1965 by Georgia Pacific. Since then it has operated under different names by different companies: Louisiana Pacific, Samoa Pacific Cellulose, Stockton Pacific, Simpson Timber Co. Samoa Planning Mill, Evergreen Pulp and now Freshwater Tissue Co.
It has a history of violations and breakdowns. Most significantly, a 1989 lawsuit by the Surfrider Foundation led to the change away from the use of chlorine. In 2007 a lawsuit brought first by Elizabeth Eytchison and then by E.P.I.C., the California Air Resources Board and the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District led to a $5 million dollar settlement for upgrades to the plant. In 2009 their water permit was revoked and a fine of approximately $400,000 was imposed for violations.
There is a pattern of economic failure after which a new company takes over and says they will do better. Most recently Evergreen Pulp Co. a Chinese Co. obtained the mill when the previous owner went broke. They ran the mill "hard" taking what they could and then one day they were gone leaving fines and unpaid workers.
Those of us who live near the mill have been the victims of this pulp mill's pollution. It has made us sick. We know our many of our neighbors have cancer and although it is hard to pinpoint the causes of cancer, we are afraid of this mill starting up again. While Evergreen was at the Wharfinger Building talking about how they cared about the community, we were having trouble breathing and getting sick at our stomach. The mill turned up production at night. The picture at the top of this website was taken one evening. The view was that no one important lived in West Eureka, so they could do what they wanted at night.
On July 15, 2010 the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board approved a new water permit for Freshwater Tissue Co. By their own admission, Freshwater cannot meet the standards of the Clean Water Act. They are also having trouble raising money and asked for all deadlines to be extended for 90 days to allow them to find investors. The Water Board also approved a Cease and Desist Order with a list of 23 deadlines. If they miss any one of the deadlines, they could lose their permit. It gives them until January 2014 to build a treatment plant which may allow them to meet the standards of the law.
The League of Eurekans Against Pollution has filed an appeal of Freshwater's Water Permit. It can be found on the State of California Water Board site.
The mill is located near Eureka, CA on the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County the home of the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean. Since the mill closed we have had fresh air and beautiful skies. Help us to safeguard our environment. Keep this mill closed.
July 9, 2010 California State Water Resources Board: "As you are no doubt aware, the Samoa Pulp Mill (Mill) has a long history of violations stemming from the facility's inability to meet applicable effluent limitations due to its lack of secondary treatment. Since being formed in July of 2006, OE has been involved in two administrative civil liability actions against the prior owners of the Samoa Pulp Mill, Evergreen Pulp Inc. (Evergreen). Those efforts resulted in the Regional Water Board imposing over $900,000 in liability against Evergreen....To date the Regional Water Board has not been able to collect any portion of the liability imposed against Evergreen."
June 24, 2010 United States Environmental Protection Agency Region IX "The existing facility has been operated by previous owners in a state of noncompliance with Clean Water Act ("CWA") requirements for many years. We are concerned that the new owner Freshwater Tissue Co., has decided to reopen and operate the existing facility, which cannot achieve immediate compliance with effluent limitations that all existing facilities must meet in order to discharge under the NPDES program. Moreover, Freshwater Tissue has offered no clear assurances that actions necessary to comply with the new permit as soon as possible are being taken."
Freshwater Tissue Co. also known as Freshwater Pulp has announced that they are officially closed and are not pursuing their plans to reopen. This blog will continue watching until the smokestacks go down and the site is cleaned up.