We have faxed you an article in which the new owner of our local mill, Bob Simpson of Freshwater Pulp, says that Amy Goodman might come here to cover the story about the possible reopening of the mill. Bob Simpson comes from an old lumber family in Humboldt County. He was the former manager of the mill he has now bought (formerly Samoa Mill) when it was owned by Lousiana Pacific. I think you know how notorious LP is. They were given the biggest fine in EPA history at least up till 1998. However he was present when the mill switched to chlorine free production. I cannot provide you with the details at this moment but I would be happy to if you are interested.
The local papers and Simpson are claiming that the new mill will be environmentally friendly. They are supposedly turning over a new leaf. Anything we say is dismissed with the argument that it will be different this time. We don’t believe it for a second. Just look at the Freshwater Pulp website. You will find no such environmental plan except using the Tan Oak instead of redwood. Under the last owner Evergreen Pulp, they were almost never up to code. All they had to do was ask for variances from the air district to be allowed to pollute beyond EPA levels and they got one every time. Understand that these would allow for illegal pollution for six months at a stretch. To the credit of our local water board, they did eventually rescind their water permit because the violations were so over the top.
They would dump contaminants into our air at night when everyone was asleep. It rained black dust. The Humboldt county blood cancer rate is double the national average. This is typical of mill counties. The mill counties of Southern Oregon have the same rate. However, we could not find a statistically significant difference in the rate in the neighborhoods surrounding the mill, like our own neighborhood of West Eureka.
If you are indeed going to cover this story, please look into the story behind the story. The local papers will print nothing critical of the mill. One notable exception was when the last owner of the mill (David Tsang) left without a trace leaving workers without health insurance, dodging large EPA fines. They seemed unconcerned about the repeated disregard for environmental laws before that. Our local air board, city council and media supported even the now notorious David Tsang. They are not going to question Bob Simpson.This is the last pulp mill in California. Simpson wants 400 million dollars of stimulus money and loans.
Even if you weren’t already covering the story as Simpson implied, you may want to consider it. We have included part of a draft of a Health Risk assessment done for Evergreen Pulp and an article about it. Basically, they were supposed to test for hexavalent chromium and failed to do so in the remaining three years of their ownership. Also, Acrolein, a pulmonary irritant used as chemical warfare in WWI was present at very high levels. They never did a final draft of the health risk assessment.