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U.S. EPA announces $5 million Clean Air Act settlement with Northern California pulp mill

Release Date: 10/02/2007
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415-947-4248

$4.1 million toward emission control equipment, $900,000 in fines

    SAN FRANCISCO (10/02/07) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District today announced a $5 million settlement with Evergreen Pulp, Inc. that will protect air quality in the Eureka, Calif. area by reducing emissions of particulate matter and hazardous air pollutants from its wood pulp mill by approximately 340 tons annually.

    Evergreen Pulp allegedly violated the federal emission standard for hazardous air pollutants by approximately 230 percent, and violated monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. The company also allegedly violated state air pollution control laws for nuisance, opacity, and air pollution control equipment maintenance requirements.

    “Emissions from pulp mills can have a significant impact on air quality in the immediate area around these facilities,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Today’s settlement reduces harmful air emissions by nearly 340 tons each year, providing a clear environmental benefit for the surrounding community.”

    “The people of Eureka and surrounding communities along Humboldt Bay will breathe easier thanks to this team effort by local, state and federal regulators,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.

    Under the settlement, Evergreen will pay a combined penalty totaling $900,000 to be shared equally among the three regulatory agencies. The company also spent approximately $4 million to install a pollution control device on its lime kiln that uses electric charges to capture and collect tiny particles of air pollution. Recent source tests show that the device is reducing harmful particulate emissions.

    The company also spent about $100,000 in 2005 to install and operate an additional pollution control device on its smelt dissolver tank. The company also agreed to continue monitoring the performance of air pollution controls of the company’s smelt dissolver.

    “The hard work of all parties to reach a settlement in this case is significant to both air quality conditions and our economy. In particular, I am appreciative of Evergreen’s willingness to work toward much needed improvements and to our local Air District staff who have diligently pursued the necessary resolution to this matter.” said John Woolley, North Coast Air District Board member.

    Particulate matter adversely affects humans -- principally through inhalation and the deposit of particles in the nose, throat, and lungs. Health effects from chronic exposure to high levels of particulate matter range from nasal irritation to bronchitis to emphysema. Young children and the elderly are the most susceptible to the adverse effects of particulate matter exposure because of their relatively limited ability to eliminate particulate matter once it is deposited in the body.

    Pulp mills also emit toxic metals including, antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, nickel, and selenium. Health effects associated with exposure to these toxics metals can include cancer, reproductive and developmental effects, gastrointestinal effects, damage to the nervous system, and irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

    The Evergreen settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and is subject to a 30-day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree will be available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site at
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