As was discussed in the last several entries Freshwater Tissue Co. still has a NPDES permit that allows it to put waste into the Ocean through the outfall pipe. It can put only exhaust pulp waste and stormwater out this pipe. Freshwater cannot make pulp anymore, but they can dispose of stormwater. Apparently this did not seem to be a problem to the Water Board since Freshwater was closing down as a pulp mill. What the Water Board did not count on was the demolition work that is being done at a rapid pace. Buildings are being torn down and asbestos is being removed. Common sense says that toxins from this demolition may wash into the stormwater, however according to Water Board staff no testing is being done of the exhaust out the outfill pipe. This is puzzling since there is a long list of monitoring requirements in both the permit and cease and desist orders.
The appeal by the League of Eurekans Against Pollution has been set aside, so there is nothing to prevent the mill from keeping the permit and continuing to exhaust out the pipe.
When the Water Board granted the Water Permit, much was made of the Cease and Desist Order and the requirements that the mill had to meet to keep the permit. They have met none of the requirements, but the permit still stands. Perhaps the Water Board thinks it is not important to cancel the permit since the mill is not making pulp. However, Freshwater Tissue Co. thinks this permit is important enough to keep paying fees to keep it in force.
What is to prevent toxins from washing into the ocean? We are not saying that Freshwater would purposely allow this, but that there are no provisions to make sure this does not happen.
The Samoa Pulp Mill (Freshwater Tissue Co.) still has a valid Water Discharge Permit. They are paying a reduced amount to keep it, although they cannot put anything out the outfall but pulp and storm water. According to the Water Board staff, they cannot transfer this permit to something else. The equipment to make pulp is gone. If they decided to build a new pulp mill, they would become a new source and would have to meet new more stringent standards. It is unclear why Freshwater is paying to maintain the permit. They have let their Air Quality Permit go. It is not clear why Mr. Simpson or somebody writing in his name claim (on this blog) that they do not have the permit.
A note to those who have written on this blog about environmental violations from the past, you can call the Regional Water Board and make it clear that you don't want your identity known and you have protection under whistle blower laws. However, your identity may not be protected if it goes to court.
Freshwater Tissue Co. was issued a Water Discharge Permit accompanied by a Cease and Desist Order which we were told would allow the Water Board to Revoke their Water Permit if they did not meet a complicated list of requirements. They did not meet those requirements, but apparently they still have a permit. It may all be of no consequence if they are not discharging water out into the Ocean, but it is puzzling why the permit still exists. There are many unanswered questions: Is it just that the Water Board is not concerned, because the mill is not in operation? Is the Samoa Pulp Mill (Freshwater Tissue Co.) putting water out into the Ocean as part of the cleanup? Could Freshwater could use this permit for another enterprise? What is the value of a cease and desist order, if it can be ignored by the very agency that issued it?
There is still an existing appeal to this Water Permit. Unless we hear differently, the State Water Board will eventually make a ruling on this appeal.