While Evergreen was in operation, local politicians and business people were to be found at the Wharfinger building eating chips and schmoozing with David Tsang. (Remember the Fishbowl.) As evidence mounted about Evergreen’s environmental violations, local dignitaries could only hear the sound of money. They asked no probing questions. Now that Evergreen has left town leaving workers without back pay or health insurance and owing the Water Board almost one million dollars in fines, they still are not asking questions. They are silent as if Evergreen had never been. Are they embarrassed about how they were taken in?
We are downloading and creating links to government documents that record environmental violations by the Samoa Mill both as Evergreen Pulp and Louisiana Pacific. This takes us away from hearsay to fact. Today we are adding a Region 9 compliance document (Evergreen Pulp) and a violation of Consent Decree against Louisiana Pacific 1996.
We are adding two articles, one of the Surfrider suit and the other on the Port Angeles Mill Rayonier Site (Dept of Ecology Washington State). Our objective is to have a central location for government documents on the mill and its history of violations.
In the case of Port Angeles Rayonier, residents had to petition the EPA to investigate their mill-site so that it would be properly cleaned up. We want to make sure that the clean-up proceeds properly since the running of the mill did not.
MILL CLEANUP BEING DISCUSSED
We were happy to discover that the State Water Board is negotiating with Louisiana Pacific about the cleanup of the mill site and that they have already done some chemical studies on the site. Apparently, liability is shared by different owners, proportional to the amount of time they ran the mill. A local firm may do the actual cleanup.
One chemical that has been found at the site is HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM. This is the chemical that caused the cancer cluster in Hinkley, CA, portrayed in the movie Erin Brokovitch. It is listed as a proposition 65 chemical. These are chemicals known to the state of California to cause CANCER OR REPRODUCTIVE TOXICITY.
We will be looking for information on other toxins known to be on the mill site. The big question for those of us in this community is what chemicals are off the mill site and in our backyards.
Evergreen was making bleached pulp.
Much as been made of the pulp mill changing to unbleached pulp. What is not widely known is that EVERGREEN CHANGED BACK TO MAKING BLEACHED PULP IN JAN. 2008. The complaint by the Regional Water Quality Board said, “This Complaint demonstrates a significant increase in MMP violations, which appears to be due to Evergreen’s decision to change brownstock (non-bleached) to Totally Chlorine Free (bleached) pulp production, which occurred, according to self-monitoring reports, on January 15, 2008.” These contaminants were being dumped into the ocean’s fragile ecosystem..
Even worse, Evergreen was fined $453,000 for violations in 2008. They were also fined $463,000 for violations from March 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007. These have not been paid . The first fine has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for collection. The second is in the process of being referred. We have also learned that THE FINE FOLLOWS THE PROPERTY. Freshwater Pulp is apparently not off the hook for these violations.
Why do we care when the pulp mill isn’t going to reopen? Because contaminants are still in the soil and groundwater and they SPREAD. This is basic ecology. There is no such thing as a contained site and people and fish live nearby.
The mill did not have wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater was discharged into the Pacific Ocean 8200 feet offshore at a depth of 82 feet.
The photo in the header above was taken in early evening, after usual work hours. At first we thought it was a fire but it was coming from the mill.
Bob Simpson said in a comment on our blog, “With regards to black smoke, I have heard the rumors. They just are not true.” Here is what we experienced. We could see the plume from our front window. Black clouds were often visible. About 5 PM the plume from the mill got larger and blacker. There was ash on our cars in the morning. I could see the ash falling at night in the light on my porch. While driving down Broadway on several occasions, there was suddenly smoke floating across the road. Then it would be gone. We bought an air cleaner that we could not afford and ran it all night. We kept the windows shut. Many people had breathing difficulties. Some people have suspicious chronic respiratory conditions. Some had serious respiratory stress during breakdowns at the plant, including hospitalizations. Many people came to the hearings of the local air quality district on the mill and told about their breathing and other health problems. No one listened. One man talked about his leukemia. Audience members laughed as if to say it was impossible for the mill to contribute to cancer. Many people remember the mill and what it dumped on our community. Some don’t come forward, because they don’t want to be ridiculed again. This is a chance to create a record of what happened. Please tell us your pulp mill stories.
In this week’s North Coast Journal’s “Last Week’s News”, Hank Sims reported that “the city has signed an indemnification agreement with the Security National subsidiary that is proposing to build the Marina project next to Eureka’s Old Town. In the agreement, the subsidiary (known as “CUE VI” promises to pick up the city’s tab for any legal challenges to the project.” He also said that this happened without the knowledge of Frank Jager and Larry Glass (at least).
This sounds suspiciously like they are planning on doing something worthy of bringing on a lawsuit, like not fully cleaning up the site perhaps. This is reminiscent of Evergreens tendency to ask for variances to get permission to break environmental laws. This is just as suspicious as walking into a bank with a balaclava. It is if they are covering themselves up before committing a crime. Except in this case, the bank manager serves the balaclava-clad guy is gourmet coffee while they go over the indemnification agreement paper work.
Great journalistic work! I am an environmental soil scientist.I just read your blog. There is alot going on here!I was involved in some cleanup work at a small lumber mill in Arcata and some pulp mills back in the midwest including a huge Superfund Site at Kalamazoo River.
Anyway, you are totally right, the way to get this thing cleaned up is to have soil and water testing done. That is the only way to prove residual contamination. Unfortuantely the Clean ir and Clean Water Acts are shell and do not prevent or fine essentially any polluters. This is a huge issue nationwide! That infomation will likely go on deaf ears; especially if the facility is not in operation.
I am surprised that the new owner, when purchasing the land, did not conduct due diligence in order to protect himself from liability. That means that he would have likely either done some soil/groundwater sampling, or got some sort of buy-off from agencies that he isn't responsible for residual contamination (virtually impossible and usually only done if the city inherits the property). Maybe this is why the deal fell through because he didn't weant the liability???
The goal it seems is that you think there is residual soil and groundwater contamination. Am I correct? If so, you have a good chance of getting support and funding, especially if you have a potential viable business that wants to operate there.
There are 2 routes I would recommend
1) collect soil/groundwater/surface water samples from nearby residents, get them anaylzed, and (assuming results are elevated to be a threat to human health or the environment, submit the results to your congress representatives, EPA, local health department, and news agencies simultaneously.
Second route, if there are low levels of contamination, even at the facility, try to talk to someone at the city who will apply for a targeted brownfields assessment grant. This is $50,000 for free that is given to municipalities with little to no strings/grant proposal to conduct a soil and groundwater assessment at the facility. If anything results from that, you have a foothold into either action against the facility, EPA cleanup, or additional grants for cleanup. This can be complicated if the landowner is fighting you.
Anyway, this is very basic but I would be more than willing to help in wahtever capacity I can. Send me an e-mail if you have any questions and good on you for fighting for the health of your community!!
To clarify a few things about the Health Risk Assessment mentioned below:
The 2006 Health Risk Assessment was done due to an abatement order. It was supervised by a Louisiana Pacific employee who had previously worked for the mill. Despite the fact that it was prepared by a company friendly to Evergreen Pulp, it did not give them a clean bill of health. It was suggested that hexavalent chromium provided the biggest danger of cancer and that tests should be done. Acrolein, listed as a serious problem below, was a WWI chemical warfare agent. When the article below was written, we didn’t know if follow up tests were done and just not reported. The California air board wrote us and said that no, at least for hexavalent chromium, they hadn’t been done. The mill kept operating for two more years.
In John Driscoll’s Friday Oct. 16. article in the Times Standard, he reported that the Marina Center Environmental Impact Report said the contamination on the site “likely originated from nearby sites where a now-banned wood preservative is used.” This appears to be the same banned wood preservative, a dioxin, referred to in a post below. If this is the case then we know that Shimdbauer produced it. Why shouldn’t they have to clean it up? And by the same token, why shouldn’t Lee and Man have to clean up the mill site? They are in Hong Kong but there are still international trade laws that might protect us. But you have to admit it doesn’t make it easy. Globalization really gave us the shaft this time. But it’s nice to know we could contribute those paper products to China, where they already cut down most of their own trees. With Evergreen selling the company, putting it under a different name in the Virgin Islands, and then disappearing, we have a problem. But Evergreeen was part of Lee and Man and we know where they are.
An aside about the Marina Center: in that same Oct 16th article the EIR said that “No additional data on soils is needed, as parking lots and buildings would shield people from exposure to contamination that may remain in place.” I can picture it now. Joe Eureka on the couch one Sunday afternoon says to his wife, “Hey honey, lets take the kids and do some shopping down at that toxic waste site.”
According the EPIC, the dioxin that caused the deaths of four mill workers (whose families won a wrongful death suit) at the Simpson mill in Arcata in 1998, may have been banned for years but it was still in the groundwater around the Schimbdbauer mill in 2002 and may still be there. Epic reported in a Summer 2002 article that “Penta contamination is documented at six additional locations around Humboldt Bay, and eleven others are unconfirmed but probably also contaminated. The chemical is found at exceedingly high levels at many of these sites, such as Schmidbauer Lumber in “Eureka, where it has been detected in the groundwater at 9,600 parts per billion (ppb). The legal limit for penta is 1ppb.” The papers we uploaded on EPA violations under Evergreen (called exceedances), bring up important questions. As you can see, the quantity of carcinogens dumped or emitted, by the hundreds of thousands, far beyond legal limits, was staggering. For instance, in the first day reported, 04/30/2006, the number of gallons discharged in excess of 1,000 but not cleaned up was 416, 799,000. What is in the soil and groundwater around the mill? Has it been tested? Are there plans to clean it up?