According to the Times Standard November 26, 2010, the owners of the pulp mill have been selling equipment. The main boiler is still for sale. "...the company does not have a date for demolition or dismantling of the mill."
Also of interest is the November 25, 2010 article in the Times Standard about the photographer who photographed the mill. Most of the article was about the "artistic" value of pulp mill. In passing however, they mentioned the eyewash stations. These apparently were used for workers to wash chemicals out of their eyes. Interesting!
One thing about the Samoa Pulp Mill that is rarely reported or discussed is the monitoring and clean up of the mill site. The chemicals are still there from years of pollution. MRP R1-2010-0023 was issued February 8, 2010 that outlined monitoring of toxins at the mill site. Correspondence about the monitoring is on the Geotracker site of the State Water Board along with the results of the Water tests for the first part of 2010. All of this is very detailed and it would require a scientist to understand it all. However, some of it is clear and disturbing. The last entry was September 8, 2010 and it was summarized earlier on this blog.
It is surprising that there has been so little interest in the clean up of the site and in the possible and probable leaking into Humboldt Bay. Danger to Humboldt Bay has been mentioned again and again in correspondence from the North Coast Water Board.
Enclosure A Technical Memorandum on the Geotracker Site says there are 26 monitoring wells. It says, "Full compliance was not achieved with MRP No. R1-2010-0023 provisions 3,4,5,7, and the reporting requirements, and hence represent violations of the California Water Code. " "The omission of DO (dissolved oxygen) does not comply...." Two sample results show TDS (total dissolved solids) above the level acceptable for drinking water. "...results identify the presence of 10 different types of CVOCs (PCE (perchloroethylene), TCE (trichloroethylene), 1,1-DCE (dichloroethene), cis-1,2-DCE, 1,1-DCA, chloroform, 1,1,1-TCA, vinyl chloride, chloroethane 1,2-DCE. " Furthermore, Water Quality Objectives were exceeded for PCE, TCE, 1,1-DCE, Cis-1,2-DCE, Chloroform and vinyl chloride. Most or all of these are on the proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.
Dissolved metals of concern that were detected include arsenic, chromium, hexavalent chromium, manganese and nickel all known to cause cancer. "All of the measured concentrations exceed the shallow groundwater numeric WQO (Water Quality Objectives)." "Spatially, shallow groundwater regulatory thresholds are exeeded..." in 7 wells. Manganese is found is distributed throughout the site.
We will continue to follow the information on the monitoring and clean up.
The law is not enforced equally especially when it comes to industries such as the Samoa Pulp Mill. Evergreen Pulp was granted a variance that gave it permission to continue polluting the air. Freshwater Tissue was granted a Cease and Desist Order that allowed it to pollute the water until 2014. How is this possible? Isn't the law the law? How can a corporation be given permission to break the law? Apparently the rights of corporations to make money take precedence over the rights of citizens to have clean air and water.
We found the staff of the Air and Water Districts to be very competent, but the real power rests with the Air and Water Boards. These are political appointees, and therefore subject to political pressure, and as we all know politics is strongly influenced if not controlled by money. The recent political campaign is a prime illustration of this. Millions of dollars were infused into the campaign by often unknown individuals and corporations.
Since the people of West Eureka have little money and there was the possibility that Freshwater could make money, it was a clear decision for the Water Board to give Freshwater every chance to open the pulp mill again. In addition apparently, the decision to grant the pulp mill an exception to the law was supported by Governor Schwarzenegger which would have made it hard for the members of the Water Board to say no. The first communication from the Water Board staff told Freshwater that they had to meet the standards of the Clean Water Act before they could open. Apparently, this was when the Governor's Office stepped in. The next communication from the Water Board staff talked about the Cease and Desist order which gave them an extended period to meet the law.
The pulp mill is apparently not going to open again, so why is this important? The Samoa Pulp Mill is not the only polluting industry. If exceptions were made for the pulp mill, how many other exceptions to the law are given to polluters. As the consequences of pollution become more serious worldwide, we need to speak up and tell those in power that we are watching and that we expect them to protect us and our environment. No exceptions!