In a letter to Freshwater Tissue Co. and Louisiana Pacific dated March 2, 2011 and including  a technical memorandum from February 7, 2011, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board staff gave their response to the Second Half 2010 Groundwater Monitoring Report. The letter can be found on the Geotracker site of the State Water Board.  Monitoring of the wells on the site is in some cases being cut from two to one time a year or eliminated all together. This is despite the danger these chemicals/ metals can cause and some of the concerns mentioned in the report.

For instance:

"Review of historic ...from wells at the Site indicates that one well... has measurements that would reasonably preclude it from being able to supply a public water system."  They go on to say that other wells might meet standards to be a public water source.  This is an excellent reminder not to drink the water coming out of the tap.

"We concur with the elimination of BTEX (benzene-toluene-ethylbenzene-xylenes and FO (Fuel Oxygenates) analyses from the MRP (monitoring report) based on the preponderance of reportable measurements greater than the laboratory's reporting limits and numaic groundwater WQOs (Water Quality Objectives).  Did we understand this one right?  They are not making them report on these chemicals and they have historically been over the limit??

Other wells "show increasing concentrations versus time indicating a potentially active source of expanding plume."  This can't be good!

In another well, "Dissolved arsenic and hexavalent chromium are more problematic because of their inherent toxicity."  This means that they are wisely going to keep testing for these chemicals, however they are cutting frequency to once a year. They are cutting nickel from the list of monitored chemicals.

"Three wells exist in this AOI (Area of interest 8) which has the continued threatened discharge potential to Humboldt Bay."

This is an 1 page letter and a 11 page technical enclosure with much detail about the chemicals and which must still be monitored twice a year and which only have to be monitored once or not at all. I know everyone will be excited about reading this with their morning coffee.  The letter ends with a period and no signature. Page 9 is missing.

In the reasons for the suspension of the monitoring and reporting program "Financial commitment by Louisiana Pacific Corporation for soil and groundwater cleanup." is listed.  This could be good news.

They say that Freshwater is waiting for approval by the California Coastal Commission to begin demolition activities.  This is confusing, because some of the demolition such as the asbestos removal has already begun.  The question is what is the text of the permit and when is the Coastal Commission going to meet on it.

The suspension of the Monitoring and Reporting Report was based on a request by Louisiana Pacific.

Conference Calls will be held monthly beginning March 9, 2011.

Our overall reaction to this letter and to the lack of information about the cleanup is why is there so much secrecy? Freshwater Tissue's website says nothing about the cleanup or the monitoring.  The local media apparently is not interested.  There is no public participation or any attempt to inform the public.  Yet,  this mill site is right in "our backyard".  If we have misinterpreted anything in this document, it is because it was not meant for us. It is written for scientists and mill owners.  We are thankful that Geotracker exists.  It is a real public service. Per chance it is not the fault of the Water Board that we are not informed.

The responsibility should fall on the backs of Louisiana Pacific and Freshwater Tissue Co.  What is happening?  Has the demolition begun?  What is the plan?  Is the asbestos gone yet?  Is the boiler still there?  Can you still make pulp? What is the longterm plan for the use of the mill site?

To the Water Board:  Why does Freshwater still have a Water Permit?
Why haven't the provisions of the Cease and Desist Order been implemented?

We are awaiting answers.

Bob Simpson
3/12/2011 12:14:13 am


Freshwater is the owner of the Samoa pulp mill property. We have engaged the services of PES Environmental Engineers and Allen-Matkins law firm to protect our interests. LP is the polluter of record. LP and their engineering firm, SHN, are working together with the NCRWQCB staff to develop a long-term well monitoring plan and cleanup lever of groundwater for the Samoa industrial site. This is not a fast process, nor should it be, and the decisions will be made with the best interest of public safety, the protection of natural resources and the State of California. Anyone who is sincerely interested in the outcome should observe the process and allow LP and the NCRWQCB adequate time to conduct their work and to do their jobs.

With regards to demolition, Freshwater obtained all necessary permits to remove asbestos and demo the old recovery boiler, bleach plant and pipe racks. The demo does not include any sub-surface work. All pulp mill chemicals will remain in storage tanks. Freshwater is searching for a facility that will take our remaining chemicals.

No decisions have been made as to the future of the Samoa property. We hope to have a decision made this summer.

Thank you for your interest.

3/12/2011 02:19:39 am

"Other wells "show increasing concentrations versus time indicating a potentially active source of expanding plume." This can't be good!"

Under the machine room floor. And heading to the bay.

Bob Simpson
3/13/2011 12:59:07 am


There has never been any contamination source found under the machine room floor. If there was, we would use every legal means possible to force the polluter to clean it up. Monitoring well A0I-8 is the source of the plume most concerning to the Water Board. LP & SHN have committed significant financial and human resources to locating and remediating the source of contamination. It is believed the source of contamination orginates on the east end of the pulp warehouse building.

I am personally very pleased with the effort being put forth by LP. The contamination likely occurred in the late 1960's or early 1970's and it doesn't appear the contamination has ever reached Humboldt Bay nor do I believe it will.

3/15/2011 03:59:45 am

Is all the asbestos gone? What about the boiler? Has Freshwater/LP applied for a Coastal Permit for demolition? If so, what is its status? Have any buildings been demolished so far? Can the mill still make pulp?

Bob Simpson
3/15/2011 10:35:15 pm


The asbestos contractor will be on site for another month or so. They have been slowed due to high winds. I am impressed with their work.

The only boiler being removed is the old recovery boilers that were replace in 1990. They will eventually be demolished.

Freshwater received its permit from the County Planning Department which was reviewed and approved by the Coastal Commission.

No buildings will been demolished. The contractor is stilling doing prep work. The buildings being demolished will come down with high reach excavators. So no explosives or wrecking balls are being utilized.

The mill cannot make pulp. The pulp machine has been removed, all of the piping is gone, and all saleable equipment has been sold.

3/16/2011 07:39:39 am

Thank you for the information.

The Pulpers
3/16/2011 02:17:54 pm

Carpet bagging arsehohle !


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