Regulatory agencies could have closed the Massie mine before those men died. The company had a history of violations, but the town depended on those jobs. Concern came after the explosions and deaths.
It would have been easier to prevent the offshore oil accident on the B.P. site off the coast of Louisiana than it will be to clean it up. What measures did regulatory agencies take to prevent this environmental disaster? Apparently it was more important to get the oil and make the money. Concern came when the black muck was on its way to beaches in 5 states.
Freshwater Tissue doesn't even pretend it can meet environmental standards. People want the jobs. There is an illusion that money will trickle down to the community. The Samoa Pulp Mill (now Freshwater Tissue Co.) has a history of breakdowns and environmental violations, yet it is on the road to start up. Concern and enforcement will come after the damage is done. People won't die in the mines or on a platform off the coast, but there will be damage to the Pacific Ocean, to the air and to the health of people, animals and plants. And then there is CANCER.
Our environmental agencies have become weak while corporations have become stronger and stronger. We are all suffering the consequences.
The public comment period for the Cease and Desist Order for Freshwater Tissue Co. ends May 13, 2010. The order can be accessed at www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/board
decisions/tentative orders. A response to comments will be posted on that website one week prior to the June 10 meeting. Write to California North Coast Water Quality Control Board, 5550 Skylane Blvd. Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 Attn: Charles Reed.
Humboldt County Supervisor Bonnie Neely's campaign office is at the Freshwater Tissue pulp mill. It is a "gift in kind" from Bob Simpson. Humboldt County is one of the agencies that must issue a permit for the operation of the mill. Will Bonnie remember her old friend Bob when she votes? Conflict of interest?
The California Regional Water Quality Control Board North Coast Region has released the draft Cease and Desist Order that is to accompany the water permit. The Public Comment Period has started. Both the Cease and Desist Order and the permit will be considered at the June 10, 2010 meeting of the board.
Highlights of the Cease and Desist Order include:
The mill can be fined for violations of the Clean Water Act while producing bleached pulp.
The mill cannot be fined for violations while producing unbleached pulp.
The mill must submit a plan to minimize discharges of BODs and TSS until the treatment plant is built. (Oct. 8, 2010)
Some of the other deadlines include: provide "financial reassurances" for funding the wastewater treatment plant (August 8, 2010)
submit a project proposal (August 8, 2010)
submit complete application to Humboldt County for development permits (Sept. 7, 2010)
submit complete application to the Air District for the treatment plant (Sept. 7, 2010)
award contracts for design of plant (Nov. 11, 2010)
commence construction of the plant (Feb. 29, 2012)
FULL OPERATION OF TREATMENT PLANT (Sept. 21, 2013)
The only cease and desist part of this order is the following:
"It is further ordered that if, in the opinion of the Executive Officer, the Discharger fails to comply with the provisions of this Order, the Executive Officer may apply to the Attorney General for judicial enforcement or issue a complaint for Administrative Civil Liability or bring back before this Regional Water Board an order to revoke WDR Order No. R1-2-1--0033." Notice the word may. Also any action could take a 30 day comment period plus wait for the next convenient meeting.
POLLUTION IMMEDIATE AND CERTAIN. ENFORCEMENT SLOW AND UNCERTAIN.
This order and its companion permit give a huge black eye to environmental enforcement and pose a huge danger to the Pacific Ocean, the animals and plants that depend on the Ocean and to the people who live by the coast. As we are learning daily, the damage will not be limited to the people of West Eureka, Humboldt Hill and Samoa or even to Humboldt County. What damages one part of the World damages the whole Earth.
In a letter dated April 16, Bob Simpson gave his answer to the letter from the North Coast Air Quality District about permitting requirements.
He said that the planned startup date for the mill is December 2010.
He started with formalities. "Freshwater understands that, under District rules, the District is allowed up to 18 months to process applications for significant modifications." Then he begins to argue his case against an 18 months wait. He uses lots of quotes from regulations, but it all leads to the following: "Freshwater does have concerns about the comment in your April 6 letter that modifications to the Title V perrequisites to startup of the Mill." He further states,"District rules applicable to Title V sources suggest that the permit holder is not prohibited from operating new equipment that will be the subject of Title V permit modifications until the modification is finalized." IN OTHER WORDS, FRESHWATER WANTS TO BE ABLE TO START UP BEFORE IT HAS ALL THE NECESSARY PERMITS FROM THE AIR DISTRICT.
Regarding the Water Treatment Plant that needs Air District Permits to be built Simpson said, "Freshwater will also submit all necessary permit applications to the District in connection with the planned wastewater treatment plant." He does not say how this plant will meet air quality standards. In a letter from the Water Quality District dated February 26, 2010, Charles Reed points out that "...we had been informed by representatives of Evergreen Pulp...that this whole mill effluent treatment alternative may not be feasible due to environmental constraints." DOES THIS MEAN THAT FRESHWATER WANTS TO START UP BEFORE HE PROVES THAT A WATER TREATMENT FACILITY WOULD MEET BOTH AIR AND WATER STANDARDS?
FRESHWATER WANTS TO START UP WITHOUT MEETING WATER QUALITY STANDARDS.
FRESHWATER WANTS TO START UP WITHOUT COMPLETE AIR PERMITS.
FRESHWATER HAS ADMITTED THAT IT NEEDS TO SELL A LOT OF PULP BEFORE IT CAN PAY FOR NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS TO MEET STANDARDS. It is no longer talking about a $400 million operation. Instead the whole mill endeavor is being done on the cheap in the hope of investments and profits.
It sounds to us like FRESHWATER IS GAMBLING AND IT IS THIS COMMUNITY THAT WILL BE THE LOSER.
In a letter dated April 6, 2010 Richard Martin the head of the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District said,
"...prior to facility operations the following Authority to Construct (ATC) permits would need to be converted to Permits to Operate (PTO) through the significant modification process:
ATC #348-1 Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) - Lime Kiln
ATC #413-1 Emergency Generator - Lime Kiln
ATC #540=1 D-GLU Project
ATC #593-1 Smelt Dissolver with Venturi Scrubber
To incorporate these permits into the existing Title V Permit, Freshwater will need to submit Significant Modification applications to the District to accomplish these permit actions. While the District will certainly process such applications as soon as possible, there are some time constraints that would affect any potential mill startup. Within the District Rules and Regulations, Rule 503(3.0) affords up to 18 months for the District to review and issue a significant permit modification, which must occur prior to any startup.
The District is also aware of recent activities of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to consider changes contained in a proposed revision to the mill's discharge permit. Proposed changes, specifically as they relate to air quality impacts will also require the submittal of an air quality permit application(s). The potential air quality impacts would need to be quantified and changes in emissions and/or equipment affecting air quality may also need to gain permit approval prior to startup."
Louisiana Pacific, the company that used to operate the mill is under orders to clean up the mill site. Evergreen Pulp would have been included in the cleanup if they could be found. Mr. Bob Simpson points out that Freshwater Tissue has not operated yet and therefore can't be held responsible for the cleanup. He does not point out that he worked for Louisiana Pacific in an executive position when it was running the mill and thereby bears ethical if not legal responsibility. We wonder why each new company is allowed to step away from the transgressions of the past.
The information about the cleanup is on Geotracker (State Water Board) under Enforcement.
December 14, 2009 letter from David Parsons of the State Water Board staff. "Failure to comply with this request may result in further enforcement activities that could include issuance of a cleanup and abatement order pursuant to Section 13304 of the California Water Code."
February 17, 2010 "The addition of arsenic analysis at MW-1 and the addition of total chromium, manganese, and nickel analyses at MWW-15 onto attachment A are necessary." Attached to this letter is a two page table of chemicals that must be monitored.
March 17, 2010 "As stated in various correspondences and discussed at our last several meetings, there are specific areas of interest (AOIs)
(i.e. AOI-8 VOOC Area Southeast) with significant discharge threat to Humboldt Bay. Other AOIs threaten groundwater and not Humboldt Bay." "As you are aware, eliminating the threatened discharge to Humboldt Bay is of serious concern to Regional Water Board staff.
Two things are puzzling and troubling to us. Why is Freshwater Tissue being allowed to start up the mill before the cleanup has been completed and why is no one discussing the danger posed by the chemicals at the mill site to Humboldt Bay and our ground water? A complete list of chemicals in the wells at the mill site is on Geotracker.
In reading the draft water permit, it is clear that when Freshwater Tissue releases pollutants into the Pacific Ocean the consequences for the environment will begin immediately and will be a sure thing. Those pollutants cannot be taken back. However, monitoring and enforcement are slow and unsure. Freshwater Tissue has admitted that it cannot meet environmental standards and will pollute. Much of the draft permit deals with monitoring, how often Freshwater Tissue is required to submit reports and what is to be included in these reports. If these reports show too much of a pollutant, they must submit more reports more frequently. Minimum sampling frequency for chemicals like hexavalent chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and benzene if twice a year. Does this mean that the mill could put out large amounts of hexavalent chromium for 6 months before it was sampled? Consequences of violations are not spelled out in this permit and are not a sure thing. While the permit allows the Water Board to shut down for violations, this does not appear to be automatic. It seems to be at the discretion of the Water Board. Fines are not ruled out, but are not spelled out in this permit. While outside companies may be brought in, much of the monitoring is done by Freshwater Tissue. Since past owners have not shown themselves to be honest (Evergreen Pulp) and Mr. Simpson seems to disrespect environmental laws (See the Humboldt Herald), this does not give us a lot of confidence that we will be protected from pulp pollution. One thing is clear. Humboldt County and the people who live here will be the biggest losers if this permit is approved.
What do we actually know about cancer and pulp mills. Cancer is a tricky disease. It is often hard to isolate one factor. However, there have been studies of cancer in pulp mill workers and those who live near pulp mills.
The American Journal of Industrial Medicine published an article reviewing the literature about cancer in pulp mill workers. They found that maintenance workers have an increased level of MESOTHELIOMA which is related to asbestos exposure. Historically machines of pulp mills were lined with a type of asbestos. It is not known whether this was true at the Samoa Pulp Mill. However, "an increased risk of MALIGNANT MELANOMAS for pulp mill workers is a constant finding."" "An increased risk for LEUKEMIAS has been found in many studies caried out on pulp and paper workers....In some studies an increased risk for STOMACH CANCER has been found." This could be due to dietary factors.
A study in British Columbia reported the following: " The results suggest that long term work in pulp and paper industry is associated with excess risks of PROSTATE AND STOMACH CANCERS and all LEUKEMIAS for work in both kraft and sulfite processes."
Dr. Jim Markos from the Australian Lung Foundation reported that "pulp mill workers are at a greater risk of developing cancers, asthma and dermatitis, and there are also health risks for people who live near pulp mills."
The British Columbia Cancer agency studied cancer in pulp and paper workers and found cancers of the esophagus, pleura, kidney and non-hodgkins lymphoma. While this was worse for workers in sulfite mills, it was also true for workers in kraft pulp mills.
Don't take our word for it. Google cancer and pulp mills or check out some of the articles we got our information from.
"Cohort cancer incidence among pulp and paper mill workers in British Columbia. Scandinavian Journal of Worker & Environmental Health 2001 Apr;27 (2): 113-9 Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, Canada
"Health effects of working in pulp and paper mills:Malignant diseases,"
American Journal of Ocupational Medicine Vol. 29 Issue 2
Dec. 6, 1998
B.C. Cancer Agency "Mortality Study of Pulp and Paper Workers."
Australian Broadcasting Association 8-19-2005 "Pulp mills increase health risks, forum hears"
Also, check studies of communities near mills in Rumford, Maine, the Potlatch Pulp Mill near Lewiston, Idaho and the longterm effects of the mill in Port Angeles, Washington.
Mr. Simpson's guest editorial in the Humboldt Herald shows that he is not willing to acknowledge the enormity of the problem of pollution from the Samoa Pulp Mill. "The real issue with the Samoa mill is not about pollution, it is about a 37 year old antiquated EPA evaluation system...." He doesn't discuss the enormity of past violations and the fact that nothing has changed since these violations that would prevent them from happening again.
"For the 35 months February 2005 through December 2007 the pulp mill, while under operation by Evergreen Pulp Inc....exceeded the monthly average BODs limitation...for eleven months. In addition to exceedances of BOD and total suspended solids limitations, the discharge exceeded the average ALDRIN concentration for one month. For the nine months until closure of the mill in October 2008, the discharge from the mill exceeded the monthly average BODs for all 9 months of operations..."(Draft Water Permit 2010) They were fined over $400,000 which was never paid. They could have been fined $59,297,999,000.
BOD means biological oxygen demand. The amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic decomposers to break down the organic materials in a given volume of water at a certain temperature over a specified time period.
ALDRIN is LISTED AS A CANCER CAUSING CHEMICAL BY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Symptoms of aldrin exposure include mental confusion,
incoordination, muscle twitching, vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness, convulsions and cancer.
In addition the mill water emissions must be tested for certain other chemicals, because they have been found in previous mill outflow. HCH, TCDD equivalents, aldrin and total DDT. There is a long list of other chemicals that could reasonably be found in mill water emissions. (Draft Water Permit)
This does not even begin to address the issue of all the chemicals already in the testing wellls on the mill site including HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM, NICKEL, ARSENIC, MANGANESE and pages and pages of other toxic cancer causing chemicals. What is to prevent these from going out the pipe into the ocean? If these are not a problem, why is the Water Board making them clean up the site? (See Geotracker)
IN SUMMARY, IT IS CLEAR THAT MR. SIMPSON AND OTHER OWNERS OF THE MILL ARE NOT RESPECTFUL OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE TOXIC CHEMICALS THAT THEY ARE WORKING WITH IN A PULP MILL. AGAIN AND AGAIN MR. SIMPSON MINIMIZES THE RISK, DISRESPECTS THE E.P.A. AND IGNORES THE CONCERNS OF THOSE OF US WHO LIVE NEAR THE MILL.
This is only addressing water pollution. Apparently the mill already has the air permits, so we won't even have a chance to speak up about air quality.