the Ocean, the environment and the people and animals of Eureka and the surrounding area.
Freshwater Tissue Co. received a permit to discharge wastewater into the Pacific Ocean on July 15, 2010 with the provision that they will not discharge anything for 90 days while they secure financing. Along with the permit, a Cease and Desist Order was issued that gives them 23 deadlines. If they miss any of the deadlines, their permit can be revoked. An appeal to the permit has been filed with the State of California Water Board by the League of Eurekans Against Pollution (L.E.A.P.). It is now in the hands of the State Water Board to protect
the Ocean, the environment and the people and animals of Eureka and the surrounding area.
In a letter dated May 19, 2010 The E.P.A. identifies compliance issues that must be fixed before Freshwater begins operation. They must collect and control Hazardous Air emissions from the pulping systems including the Oxygen Delignation System Controls. Based on the E.P.A. inspection of the facility and information provided by Evergreen, "EPA determined that the Facility does not control emissions from the following units within the ODS: the second O2 washer, the post O2 surge tank, the seal tank, the second wash filtrate tank, and the screened stock chest." Freshwater tried to say that they didn't need these upgrades. The EPA is requiring them. Freshwater will need permits from the district before installation of these upgrades.
In addition, Freshwater must conduct performance testing of the steam stripper during bleaching operations. "EPA expects that Freshwater will conduct a performance test, as soon as possible, but no more than 90 days after startup."
According to a Press Release from the Center for Biological Diversity,
"California for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity today notified the Environmental Protection Agency of their intent to sue the agency for failing to review and update Clean Air Act rules for certain polluting pulp. The 60-day notice focuses on New Source Performance Standards for kraft pulp mills, which dissolve wood chips into fibers later used to make paper products."
"Kraft pulp mills emit a substantial amount of air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur compounds, nitrogen oxides and volitile organic compounds. Only two of these pollutants, particulate matter and sulfur compounds, are currently subject to the performance standards. If EPA does not act quickly to update the standards, the groups intend to file a lawsuit and seek a court order requiring the agency to review the standards to ensure that all significant air pollutants from kraft pulp mills are addressed."
For your nearest kraft pulp mill, you only have to look out the window or look toward Humboldt Bay at Freshwater Tissue Co./ Samoa Pulp Mill. We who live near this mill have long complained about the air we breathe when that mill is in operation. We have not received a lot of help from the local air district. In the past there was only one air quality station and it only tested for particulates. Now there are three. Sometimes they may test for other chemicals, but it is not often. Since testing is skimpy, it is our word against the pulp mill.
Thank you Center for Biological Diversity and Californians Against Toxics.
It has not been discussed in local media, but the Samoa Pulp Mill site is a legally mandated cleanup site. Louisiana Pacific is being called back to help finance the cleanup since they are a responsible party. Recently tests were done on the groundwater in the wells on the mill site. They revealed levels beyond the reporting levels for chemicals and metals. The results are available on the Water Board's Geotracker site. Many of these chemicals/metals are listed by the State of California as known causes of cancer and birth defects. They include arsenic, chromium, manganese, chloroform, diesel fuel #2, nickel, total dissolved solids, cis-1,2-Dichloroethane, tetrachloroethene (PCE), Trichloroethene (TCE), hexavalent chromium, 1-1-Dichloroethane, tetrachloroethene (PCE) and vinyl chloride.
In a letter dated July 19, 2010 the California Regional Water Board said, "This area has been known to be a discharge threat to Humboldt Bay for more than five years because of its close proximity to Humboldt Bay. The contaminants of concern (COCs) in AOI-8 include a host of chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs).. The recent groundwater monitoring effort in compliance with Regional Water Board Monitoring and Reporting Program (MRP) No. R1-2010-0023 continues to show the presence of CVOCs including; tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), and Cis 1,2-dichloroethene (Cis-1,2-DCE)."
"Clearly, the shallow groundwater WQOs (Water Quality Objectives) are exceeded for the identified CVOCs. In addition to the CVOCs, dissolved metals were measured and some of these levels also exceeded WQOS in both shallow and deeper groundwater."
1.The Water Permit will be appealed.
2. The Cease and Desist Order has a list of 23 deadlines that must be met or the Water Permit can be revoked.
"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 is authorized to request that the Attorney General take appropriate judicial enforcement, issue a complaint for Administrative Civil Liability, bring an order before this Regional Water Board to revoke WDR Order No. R1-2010-0033 or take other appropriate enforcement actions as authorized by California Water Code." The order is in effect until 2014.
3. The Title V Permit for the mill is overdue for renewal. A hearing will have to be held with public input. The mill cannot operate without a Title V permit.
4. Once people know there is a danger of the mill opening, public opposition will grow.
5. If the mill starts up, there will be toxic emissions which may result in lawsuits.
6. This mill is old and broken down. There is some new equipment, but much of the mill is old. There are frequent breakdowns. They will just have to keep sinking money into the mill to keep it going.
7. The mill is a toxic cleanup site. The wells at the mill are full of cancer causing chemicals.
8. The mill must conduct frequent testing for toxic chemicals, BODs, TSS which will be expensive. If these chemicals are found there must be more testing.
9. The mill will use precious species such as the redwood and the tan oak. This will cause public outcry as more trees are cut.
10. The market for pulp is changeable. Evergreen could not make a go of it.
11. We will not go away. We will not forget how we were treated by Evergreen Pulp.
12. The mill is already in debt. It owes the Water Board $900,000. What else does it owe?
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Board approved a new water permit for the mill. It was clear that it was a done deal when the Freshwater lawyer walked in in his suit carrying his own version of the Permit and the Board accepted it. Apparently the investors are getting nervous because of recent letters from the E.P.A. and the Office of Enforcement. Freshwater asked for a 90 day delay so they could raise the money. They brought in their own revised copies of the permit that delays everything 90 days. It was clear that nothing any citizens from Eureka said would have made any difference to this board. More to come.
INVESTORS BEWARE. WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE GOOD NIGHT. THIS PERMIT CAN AND WILL BE APPEALED.
(Mr. Simpson says that Mr. Tsang does not work for Freshwater. We will take his word for it unless we find evidence to the contrary. We make every effort to be accurate.)
In a letter to the California Regional Water Board dated July 8, 2010, Bob Simpson in a discussion of the provisions of the proposed new Water Permit said that ,"Freshwater has no reason to believe that the Facility cannot comply with these other new limits, but it is also true that there is no data demonstrating that it can."
He keeps saying that new standards for oil, grease, pH, certain metals, pesticides and dioxin "have never been applied to the water treatment plant discharge in the past."
He doesn't seem to think the mill should be fined for violations. "... it would be inequitable for Freshwater to be exposed to mandatory minimum penalties for violation of these new limitations, however unlikely the violation."
Mr. Simpson's attitude would probably have worked for him in the past.
He clearly thinks this mill can get by as it has in the past. Historically the Samoa Mill has not had to meet standards. Let's hope that the Water Board of 2010 has learned from the mistakes of the past. The entire letter and the letter from the Office of Enforcement will be on the Water Board site. The meeting on the Water Permit is July 15, 2010 in Santa Rosa.
In a letter dated July 9, 2010 The Office of Enforcement of the State
Water Resources Board spoke up about the Cease and Desist Order
for Freshwater Tissue Co. "...the Samoa Pulp Mill (Mill) has a long
history of violations stemming from the facilities 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. In addition, prior owners of the Mill also became insolvent when faced with bringing the facility into compliance."
"It is not clear from the Order that Freshwater has provided the
Regional Water Board with adequate assurances that it will be able to finance the costs of the necessary improvements and still have a viable business."
"It is probable that at some point Freshwater may violate some of the compliance dates and seek an amendment to those dates and it would be helpful to have an explanation as to why these dates are
reasonable4 and attainable at the time the Order is adopted."
The letter points to places where the language in the Cease and Desist
Order needs to be clarified. Basically the Cease and Desist Order is an enforcement nightmare. "Lastly, this Order will require continued
diligence and involvement from the Regional Water Board and
dedication of a significant amount of staff time and resources to
monitor Freshwater's compliance with the Order. The potential impact
that this dedication of limited resources will have on other Regional
Water Board priorities should be considered."
The Cease and Desist Order lists the following things that the pulp mill cannot comply with 1} limitations for 5 day biochemical oxygen demand during production of bleached pulp 2)limitations for BODs and total suspended solids during production of unbleached pulp, 3) limitations of settleable solids and turbidity for the discharge of solids removed from the water treatment plant
Reading over the Cease and Desist Order that will go with the Water Permit if it is issued on July 15, 2010, we have many concerns. There are numerous exemptions to environmental standards such as for mandatory minimum penalties for violations of effluent limitations for biological oxygen demand and total suspended solids during the production of unbleached pulp and settleable solids and turbidity. The list of exemptions is long.
Violations of standards for dangerous chemicals are not spelled out in this order. While they are required to test for some chemicals, this order does not spell out consequences for violations. Chemicals known to be in the wastewater permit are include DDT and Aldrin both of which are listed by the state of California as causing cancer.
They have a schedule which they have to meet. The first date on the schedule is November 19, 2010. The water plant doesn't have to be in full operation until Sept. 17, 2013 and doesn't have to do performance tests until November 29, 2013 over 2 months longer than the original Cease and Desist Order. That means that they will not have to meet environmental standards until that dat.This schedule is going to cost the Water Board and the State of California a lot of money to administer and will have the same result more pollution in the Pacific Ocean.
In the event that they don't comply with the Cease and Desist Order, the Executive Officer may apply to the Attorney General for judicial enforcement and the Water Permit may be brought back before the Water Board to revoke their Water Permit. Thie key word here is "may" which leaves open the possibility of "may not".
The result of this Cease and Desist Order and the Water Permit that comes before the Water Board on July 15 is more pollution and endless exceptions for the law for a facility that has been a repeated violator of the law. Freshwater Tissue Co. is given every break while the people who live near the mill and the environment are considered to be collateral damage.
The revised cease and desist order for Freshwater Tissue Co. is on the Northcoast Water Board site at www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/board_decisions/tentative_orders
Written comments, technnical reports, written testimony and other evidentiary materials are due at the Water Board in Santa Rosa on July 9, 2010.
The Cease and Desist Order is to accompany the Water Permit if it is issued. It makes provisions to revoke the Water Permit if the timeline for updates to the mill and other permits, financial statements, etc. are not met or if there is a danger to the public or the environment.