Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pollution Pipeline

As I’ve mentioned before, the Georgia Pacific Paper Mill’s (GP) discharge permit is up for renewal. We have been following the application as it moves through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection‘s (DEP) process.

You may remember that DEP issued GP a permit in 2002 that would allow the mill to build a 1,500 ft, 48 inch diameter pipeline that would move its discharge point from Rice Creek to the heart of the St. Johns River. GP has said that building the pipeline was a last resort effort; the pipe would be used only if all of the plant upgrades left them no choice. Now, the Mill seems to have changed its tune, and according to a new GP website, the company now plans on constructing the pollution transfer system in the near term.

Riverkeeper opposes the construction of this pipeline. We believe the mill should not be able to move its pollution from Rice Creek to the River and the mill should do more to reduce its impacts from the environment. GP is the second largest source of nitrogen in the lower St. Johns discharging over 200,000 lbs/year. Nitrogen is the cause of the Green Monster. The Mill’s pollution also has such an impact on the dissolved oxygen levels in Rice Creek that the mill has to inject liquid oxygen into its waste stream. There are still byproducts of the mill’s bleaching process that have been shown to cause impacts to fish reproduction processes.

Riverkeeper and our partner, Clean Water Network of Florida, will continue to follow the permit renewal process. Given the prospect of massive water removals from the river, discharge permits such as GP, will have even more significance for the River’s health. We will keep you posted on this important issue. We will need your help in this battle.

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