How did the Samoa Pulp Mill change ownership from Evergreen Pulp to Freshwater Tissue Co without the debts of Evergreen being paid? This includes $900,000 owed the Water Board, the severance pay owed the mill workers and perhaps other debts.  It seems whenever the mill is in trouble, it changes ownership behind closed doors.  Why doesn't the fine follow the property?  Why wasn't the debt to the workers included as part of the deal with Freshwater? What happened to Evergreen anyway?  Why can't the workers put a lien on the property before it changes hands again?  Just asking... Maybe someone else knows.
 
Freshwater Tissue Co. has announced the end of their plans to start up the Samoa Pulp Mill. The death of the pulp mill has been announced before.  We will be watching.  Our plan is to keep this blog up until the smokestacks go down and until the site is cleaned up. 



 
In the unlikely event that Freshwater Tissue Co. can navigate the present environmental regulations, how will it weather new increasingly stringent E.P.A. guidelines? 

On June 2, 2010 the E.P.A. revised the standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2). It is establishing a "new 1-hour standard at a level of 75 parts per billion (ppb)." The old standard of 140 parts per billion over 24 hours and 30 parts per billion over an entire year has been revised. Pulp mills are notorious for their SO2 smell. Even newer pulp and paper mills will have difficulty meeting the new standards.  It will be even more difficult, if not impossible, for old pulp mills such as the Samoa Pulp Mill.

Business interests may scream and complain, but environmental regulations are going to get more and more strict as the impacts of pollution worldwide become more obvious.

According to the E.P.A., "The revised standard will improve public health protection, especially for children, the elderly, and people with asthma.  These groups are susceptible to the health problems associated with breathing SO2." "EPA estimates that the revised standard will yield health benefits valued between $13 billion and $33 billion, including reduced hospital admissions, emergency room visits, work days lost due to illness, and cases of aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis, among other benefits."
 
Guest Article by Patrick Eytchison

The foul odors associated with draft pulp mills is caused by reduced sulfur gases (TRS), primarily hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, and dimethyl disulfide.  The major sources of emission of these gases are the digester, the evaporator, and the recovery boiler.  Smaller amounts come from other point sources such as the smelt tank and black liquor oxidation exhaust.  TRS gases are neurotoxins.  In high concentrations they are fatal.  Their effects on humans at various lower levels of concentration range from respiratory irritation, susceptibility to viral infections, eye irritation and permanent visual impairment, nausea, mental confusion, and depression.  Studies have linked longterm TRS exposure to  permanent neurobehavioral impairment. (2) At least two studies have suggested a link between long-term low level TRS exposure and elevated suicide rates. (3) One of the most careful series of studies of the effect of kraft pulp mill TRS emissions on the health of residents living near such mills was conducted in Finland in the 1990's.  Since TRS production is associated with draft mills whether or not chlorine bleaching is involved, these studies are relevant to Eureka exposure to Samoa mill air emissions.

The South Karella studies were conducted in southeast Finland by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Helsinki.  Using standard epidemiological procedures, the Karella researchers distributors health surveys to randomly selected subjects in three communities where actual air testing demonstrated differing levels of ongoing pulp mill TRS exposure.  Daily variations in TRS concentrations were also recorded.  The results of these studies showed a positive correlation between elevated TRS levels and increased mean intensity of headache, depression, tiredness, and nausea.  A similar correlation was found between TRS levels and acute respiratory infections, as well as respiratory symptoms and eye symptoms.  These results were found at relatively low levels of exposure.  In the Conclusion discussion of a 1998 Karella study report the author states, "The present study strengthens the evidence that long-term exposure increases respiratory tract symptoms at far lower levels than could be expected from current knowledge of the toxicology of these compounds."(4)

The exact amount of TRS exposure produced by any pulp mill is difficult to assess accurately.  As the 1998 report quoted above remarks of the mills included in the Karella study, "-a typical exposure profile near the pulp mills was characterized by short-term peaks between periods of no or low exposure."  For this reason short of constant mobile monitoring, statements regarding TRS emissions from a particular mill are, necessarily, educated estimates.  Given this caution, however, annual pulp mill TRS emissions are almost always to be measured in tons.  What about the Samoa mill?  The last estimate for the mill I saw was 24 tons annually; that's 48,000 pounds of neurotoxin poison a year. (5)

FOOTNOTES:

(1) Jaakkola JJK, Marttila O, Vikka V, et al. "The South Karella Air Pollution Study: the effects of malodorous sulfur compounds from pulp mills on respiratory and other symptoms". AM REV RESPIR DIS 1990; 142:1344-50.

Haahtela T, Marttila O, Vikka V, et al. "The Karella Air Pollution Study: acute health effects of malodorous sulfur air pollutants released by a pulp mill. AM J PUBLIC HEALTH 1991; 82:1060-63.

Mattila O, Jaakkola JJK, Vikka V, et al. "The South Kerally Air Pollution Study: the effects of malodorous sulfur compounds from pulp mills on respiratory and other symptoms in children". ENVIRON RES 1994; 66:152-59.

Mattila O, Jaakkola JJK, Partti-Pellinne K, et al. "The South Kaarella Air Pollution Study: daily symptom intensity in relation to exposure levels of malodorous sulfur compounds from pulp mill production". ENVIRON RES 1995;71:122-27.

Partti-Pellinen K, Marttila O, Vikka V, et al. "The South Keralla Air Pollution Study: low-level exposure to malodorous sulfur compounds as a determinant of eye, respiratory and central nervous symptoms in adults". ARCH ENVIRON HEALTH 1998; 51:315-20.

(2) Kilburn KH< Warshaw RH. "Hydrogen Sulfide and Reduced-Sulfur Gases Adversely Effect neurophysiological Functions". TOXICOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL HEALTH 1995; 11(2): 185-197.

(3) Report by Dr. R H Weisler, University of North Carolina School of Medicine to the 18th Annual U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in Las Vegas, November 2005; also prior Weisler study presented to the 17th Annual U.S.. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress, 2004, and the National Institute of Mental Health New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit, June 2005.

(4) Jouni J K Jaakkola. "The South Karella Air Pollution Study: Changes in Respiratory Health in relation to Emission Reduction of Malodorous Sulfur Compounds from Pulp Mills". Archives of Environmental Health; July 1999.

(5) Document Dated 8/21/2006; Subject: Evergreen Pulp Title V Permit Application, Submittal of Additional Requested Information; To Simona Altman (NCAQMD), From Carol Romero (Evergreen Pulp), Attachment B. 






 
In a letter dated September 8, 2010 from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board North Coast Region to Louisiana-Pacific and Freshwater Tissue Co., they responded to the "Response to Comments and Addendum to First Half 2010 Groundwater Monitoring Report, former Louisiana-Pacific Pulp Mill" of August 12, 2010. Monitoring  is occuring in the wells on the Samoa Pulp Mill site. Remediation of problem areas is on the pulp mill site.

1".We request that remaining well pairs have their vertical gradient magnitudes and direction(s) determined in order to achieve compliance with MRP R1-2010-0023.  This item remains a violation until the required analyses are provided."

2."Hence, the lack of DO (dissolved oxygen) measurement during the first monitoring effort under MRP R1-2010-0023 remains a violation of the order.  We will not be issuing a fiscal penalty for this violation..."

3."We were unable to determine that the SHN Water Sampling Data Sheet ...actually contains three well casing volumes."  "Hence this item is removed."

4."Thank you for indicating that Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (THP) as Motor Oil (TPHMO) from MW-20 will be presented in tabular form. This item is resolved."

5."We rechecked Table 2 (MW-1) footnotes which indicate organic compounds exist that elute out on the TPH as gasoline range and in the diesel range, albeit at low concentrations". "This item still needs to be resolved."

6."Thank you for implementing field filtering and only analyzing for specific constituents of concern (i.e. dissolved hexavalent chromium..."
This item is resolved...

7."We request that monitoring and analyses be implemented as per MRP R1-2010-0023.  This item appears to be resolved but results from the next sampline and reporting effort will confirm or reject resolution of this item."

8. "We appreciate the correlations that SHN has developed between total dissolved solids (TDS) and specific conductance (SC)....This item appears to be resolved."

9."...the Document does not adequately describe what corrective actions would be applied for either field or laboratory events..." "We request that corrective action discussion be expanded so that we are not guessing what would happen when correctivwe actions are needed...This violation is not yet resolved."

10."Based on the locations of MW-12 and MW-20, a threatened discharge to Humboldt Bay exists and therefore preparation of an interim remedial action (IRA) is appropriate to prevent and minimize the threatened discharge to Humboldt Bay."

11."This item is not resolved and further data collection is required."

12. "These maps will be prepared as part of the Site conceptual model to be submitted in December 2010."

"On August 23, 2010, we received notification from SHN that AOI-8 field work will begin on September 13, 2010, with estimated 5-day duration....This email also indicates that the second half 2010 groundwater mo9nitoring effort would occur the week of September 13, 2010."

This letter is online on the State Water Board's Geotracker site.





 
Bob Simpson  President of Freshwater Tissue Co. appeared on Channel 3 news last night to say he had several deals in the works for the mill. He said that he had two companies that were interested in partnering in the running of the mill and two companies that wanted to buy the boiler.  We'll see.

Also of note are the threats and namecalling that are going on both on this blog and on the Humboldt Herald.  Is this the way business is done?  The following are just some of the examples:

"Killed the jobs Binder.. I won't forget."  ME

"Carol, Carol, Carol...Your ignorance and lack of proper information astound me." Nat Zink Local 49 President.

"If ignorance could be monetized you are worth billions." Bob Simpson

"You spew pulp fiction because that word isn't in your vocabulary...I will not allow your lies to continue because you are harming too many lives in this community." Bob Simpson

and my favorite from the Humboldt Herald "...you are a pathetic pathological liar."

 Are we supposed to go away now? Our information all comes from government documents or from interviews with public officials.

 
Freshwater Tissue Co. has five letters of support on their website from Representative Thompson and other dignitaries.  These letters were sent to support a loan application to EXIM, the Export Import Bank of the United States.  We contacted EXIM and they said that they had no such application, and furthermore that they had no program that would grant such a loan in the U.S. The question is whether Freshwater didn't know or whether they were trying to create the impression that they might receive funding.

Also, note there is a Los Angeles Times article dated today on Eureka and the pulp mill.  Among other things, it says that Freshwater might sell off its boiler to a company in Canada. 

Increasingly, this looks like a company in trouble, but not because of us.  Note Bob Simpson's comments on this blog.  This does not sound like they came from the President of a company with a secure future.

 
If you live near a pulp mill your health may be at risk.  The pulp making process- "digestion", washing, bleaching, recovery and causticizing-involves a complex series of chemical reactions.  These reactions produce a long list of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) potentially injurious to human health.  Because of this hazardous reality, pulp mills in the United States are required to maintain systems of pollution control devices.  Federal and State laws, however, do not require a total elimination of pulp mill HAP emissions.  Furthermore, for various reasons, real-world pollution control systems may not function as well as intended; and actual emissions may exceed legally set limits.

What is the nature of pulp mill HAPs? Hazardous air emissions from kraft pulp mills (the kind of pulp mill on the Samoa Peninsula) are generally classed under the following categories:particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen and sulfur oxides, metals, and reduced sulfur compounds (TRS).  The impact of these various substances on human health is an extremely complex matter, depending in part on amounts emitted, length of exposure, and susceptibility of impacted individuals.  While a mill may release only relatively small amounts of some substances, day in and day out exposure, over long periods of time, such "trace" amounts may have serious consequences.  Other pulp mill HAP releases are measured in tons.  Further complicating this situation is the phenomenon of "chemical mixture"; the fact that specific chemical emissions may combine with elements and compounds in the environment, with often not easily predictable chemical consequences.

What links have been established between the above mentioned HAPs and specific illnesses?  Certain metals and VOCs, some emitted by pulp mills, have been linked to cancer.  Oxides in the air have been linked to birth defects.  Particulates are linked to difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease.  Reduced sulfur gases, which account for the typical "foul odors" associated with pulp mills, are neurotoxins.  Exposure at high concentrations can result in immediate death.  Typical lower levels of exposure is linked to a spectrum of symptoms as varied as respiratory tract irritation, eye injury, fatigue, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, and depression.  Research has shown that long term exposure to low concentrations of reduced sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide can lead to an abnormal growth of brain cells and impaired neurobehavioral functioning.

Living near a pulp mill may be harmful to your health.

SELECTED REFERENCES:

United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1993. "Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Industry Air Emission Standards, Manufacturing Processes at Kraft, Sulfite, Soda and Semi-Chemical Mills. EPA-453 R-93-050a. Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Jeanne Mager Stellman, "Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety" (EOHS): Pulp and Paper Industry, 72-72.17; editors Kay Teschke and Paul Demers, International Labor Organization, 1998, 1253 pp.

World Bank. 1996. "Pollution Prevention and Abatement: Pulp and Paper Mills." Draft Technical Document. Environmental Department, Washington D.C.

Chemical Mixtures

Victor J. Feron, et. al. "International Issues on health effects of exposure to chemical mixtures".  Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 110-Supplement 6- December 2002.

Cancer

"Exposure to numerous substances designated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as known, probable and possible carcinogens may occur in pulp and paper operations." Quoted from: EOHS; Kjell Toren and Kay Teschhe, :"Cancer", p. 72.15

G M Matanoski, et. Al. "Industry-wide study of mortality of pulp and paper mill workers" Am J Ind Med. 1998 Apr, 33 (4):354-65.

Y.M.Coyle, et. al."An ecological study of the association of metal air pollutants with lung cancer incidence in Texas". J Thorac Oncol. 2006;1(7).

R.B. Hayes. "The carcinogenicity of metals in humans". Cancer Causes Control. 1997 May;8(3):371-85.

P.J.Mazzone."Analysis of volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath for the diagnosis of lung cancer". J Thorac Oncol. 2008; 3(7) 774-780.

Birth Defects/Oxides

S.M. Gilboa, et. al. "Relationship betwwen ambient air quality and selected birth defects, seven county study. Texas, 1997-2000". Am J Epid. 2005; vol. 162, no.3, pp.238-252.

B.Ritz, et.al. "Ambient air pollutin and risk of birth defects in Southern California". Am J. Epid.2002;vol. 155 (Jan.1), 17-25.

Particulates

C.A. Pope, et. al."Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution". JAMA 2002;287:9.

D. Krewski, et. al. "Reanalysis of the Harvard Six Cities Study and the American Cancer Society Study of particulate air pollution and mortality". 2000. Cambridge, MA:Health Effects Institute.

A. Peters, et. al. "Increased particulate air pollution and the triggering of myocardial infarction". Circulation. 2001; 103;2810-2815.

Total Reduced Sulfur (TRS)

Jouni J.K. Jaakkaola, "The South Karalia Air Pollution Study: changes in respiratory health in relation to emission reduction of malodorous sulfur compounds from pulp mills". Archives of Environmental Health; July 1999.

K.H.Kilburn. "Exposure to reduced sulfur gases impairs neurobehavioral function"; Southern Medical Journal; October 1997.

K.H. Kilburn. "Endangered Brains"; Princeton Scientific Publications, Birmingham, Alabama, 2004.

Hannah RS, Roth SH. "Chronic exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide produces abnormal growth in developing cerebellar Purkinje cells". Neuroscience Letter; 1991 Jan 28;122(2):225-8.

James Collins and David Lewis, "Hydrogen Sulfide: evaluation of current California air quality standards with respect to protection of children". Air Toxicology and Epidemiology Section, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. September 1, 2000.




 
According to a letter from Korab International, they would buy the pulp from Freshwater Tissue Co. if it opens and 70-80% would be sent to China and Korea.  The rest would be sent to Asia or the U.S. which means it would probably go to Asia too.  There is no suggestion that this pulp would be used to make tissue paper nor is there mention that this pulp would be used to make green products.  On the Freshwater website, they say that their pulp will be "sold to tissue makers who in turn will convert the pulp to consumer-ready tissue per FTC's specification.  The eco-friendly tissue will be sold by FTC in the United States."  It seems that this is no longer the plan.  Instead, we are sending the natural resources of Humboldt County to Asia where they can do with it what they want.

China has already cut down their forests.  Now they are trying to restore them by banning the cutting of their forests in 2/3 of the country.  Boats are taking Humboldt County logs to China.  Now Freshwater Tissue plans to send the pulp of tan oaks and other trees to Asia.  Keep in mind that China alone could deforest all of Humboldt County and still want more.  I do not mean that this is what is happening, but I want to point out the enormity of the Chinese need for wood.

In fact, as tempting as Freshwater's original plan might have sounded to some, it is turning out not to be green or a tissue paper factory.  It cannot claim to be green and not meet the standards of the Clean Water Action until 2014! They apparently are not planning to produce tissue for the U.S. market per green specifications!  Where is the green tissue in Freshwater Tissue Co.?