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Justifiable or not?

For months now the Lufkin community, the communities adjacent to Sam Rayburn reservoir and the Jasper community have been subjected to an intensive public relations campaign designed to protect the interests and profit margins of the Canadian owned Paper Mill and local pulp wood interests.   This publicity campaign has made several unsubstantiated assertions while focusing on several topics. The topics are:

·          The paper mill has been good a neighbor over the years.  ·          A fact versus fiction, science versus rumor, science versus innuendo argument has been promoted in news paper and radio ads, editorials, biased newspaper articles, and more recently, Donohue's  “UPDATE” newsletter.

 ·         The mill will reduce their pollution by 50% when the planned expansion is completed.  ·          The upper reaches of Sam Rayburn water Use Standards must be downgraded or the mill will be shut down because they cannot produce effluent discharges that will support the current standards.  ·          The economic value to the community is enormous.  Those who conceived this campaign would have you believe that the local paper mill is the only viable market place for East Texas timber.  Lets tiptoe through the twaddle, look at the hoopla generated in this publicity campaign in the order given above, and see what is - point by point.   Are they good neighbors?  The 1998 EPA toxic release records document the release of nine hundred eighty six thousand, seven hundred seventy two (986,772) lbs. per year of toxic materials emitted into the air by Donohue Paper Industries, Lufkin.  These emissions included four hundred eighty eight thousand, four hundred and ninety eight (488,498) lbs. of Carcinogenic Chloroform,  twenty three thousand, seven hundred sixty five (23,765) lbs. of Chlorine, and over twenty-eight thousand (28,000) lbs. of Hydrochloric acid.  These are self-reported records. Would any one in your neighborhood identify you as good neighbor if you were dispersing nearly a million (986,772) pounds of toxic materials, including 488,498 lbs. of a carcinogen, per year into your neighborhood?  I think not!  With certainty you would be subject to legal action. Why the difference in responsibility?  The answer is money and political influence. The News Times reported some 5000 workers of the Communication, Energy and Paper workers Union struck against  Abitibi in June 1998.  The strike affected 11 of Abitibis –Consolidated  mills in Eastern Canada.  More details are at /archive 98. Lets turn to the Science versus Innuendo argument that has been the focus of many newspaper and other advertisements. The innuendoes that are referred to so frequently, are the result of simple observations that were made public.  Specifically, major problems in the fish population of Sam Rayburn began shortly after purchase of the Paper Mill by Donohue.  The problems have included a major fish kill in 1998, a minor fish kill in 1999, a marked increase in the numbers of fish with extensive sores and lesions, a decline in Aquatic vegetation, peaks in discharges of Aluminum concurrent with fish kills, all fish species collected in the 1998 Dioxin Biological Accumulation Study were contaminated with Dioxin, a concurrent abnormality in water conductance down stream of the paper mill, and a indisputable decrease in fishery productivity. Circumstantial evidence, admissible in some litigation, has been labeled as rumor, innuendo and fiction in this propaganda campaign.  If the promoters of the campaign can’t handle these facts and choose to call them innuendo, rumor and fiction, so be it.  Now to rumors.  The simple truth is that a local guide, who has actively supported the proposed standards revisions and lobbied for the paper mill, has himself, been a prominent source of the rumors that he has professed to be concerned about.  He has promoted the “Black Helicopter Spraying” and other similar rumors.  He has attributed rumors, he has himself promoted, to his opposition, and has used a relationship with the Houston Chronicle Outdoors editor to publicize rumors and heap ridicule on concerned citizens, who committed the unpardonable sin of urging state agencies to address their concerns over water quality.  It is interesting to note that this guide recently did an about face and is now expressing concern over the Rayburn fishery. Two months ago anyone who suggested that problems existed on Rayburn was looked upon with disdain by this guide.  Now lets examine half of  the Science versus Rumor propaganda. Their have been two privately funded site-specific studies submitted to TNRRC frequently referred to as “seven years of Scientific study proving that the proper standard for the upper end of Sam Rayburn is intermediate life”.  Hogwash!  The scientific study intended to justify an increase in Aluminum discharge limits was immediately rejected by the first peer scientist who was relatively free of the states political influence.  The US EPA found procedural and quality control errors in the study and TNRCC and the Paper Mill have been forced to plan and conduct another study.  Even though several private citizens had critiqued this so called scientific study months ago and identified numerous problems with it in writing, TNRCC could find no fault in their review.  Neither could the Paper Mills hired gun whose first order of business is to always dazzle his audience with an impressive list of credentials and his vast expertise. The fact is; the experiments that formed the basis for this “scientific study” were not even repeatable, yet the study offered conclusions in pretext that the work justified an increase in Aluminum discharge permit limits.  The fact that this hired gun could not, or did not, identify the faults readily identified by the EPA and others in the site-specific study intended to justify increased Aluminum discharge limits is less than awe inspiring – much less!   In fact this hired gun extolled the study in his letter to TNRCC supporting the revised standards.  Since he was not able to discern or identify the study problems so readily apparent to the EPA and others, it must be concluded that his creditability is limited. Such activity is not science; it’s pseudo science based on technical prostitution.  The other half of the “six. . .  seven years of scientific study” frequently touted is also a privately funded site-specific study.  The study professes to prove that the upper portion of Sam Rayburn is not capable of supporting a High Aquatic Life Standard by examining water chemistry, quantities and diversity of fish species, and quantities and diversity of invertebrates downstream of the Paper Mill.  Conclusions are based on a comparison of these parameters with collections from other nearby stream locations and rely upon statistical analyses of fish and invertebrate collections.  The study report actually stated that a rich collection of fish collected upstream of the Paper Mill was thrown out of the analysis because the collection site habitat was non-representative, thus deliberately introducing a bias to the statistical analysis.  Apparently the habitat did not become non-representative until after the fish were collected and it was evident that the collection did not represent an Intermediate Aquatic Life fish population. Putting it as simply as possible; the data didn’t support their purpose so they just threw it away. Again, that’s not science and any thinking person knows it.  In fact the Texas Parks and Wildlife, the US Forest service, a TNRCC  field scientist, and the agency that was the fore runner to TNRCC, have all opposed revisions to an Intermediate Aquatic life Standard, found fault with the site specific study and were supportive of a High Aquatic Life standard. If you believe that money and political influence has prevailed over science in this matter you are not alone. TNRCC has a record of over 4,000 people opposing the revision. This scientific study is currently being reviewed by the EPA. What does 50 % reduction in pollution mean?   There have been frequent references to reductions in pollutant discharges that will be brought about by the mill expansions and modernization publicized.  The only number that has been made public is a 50 % reduction of  ???????  What are the specifics?  When pressed for answers mill representatives have said they expect to achieve a 50% reduction in Oxygen demand in their surface water discharges.  They have said that they anticipate an increase in their permit limits for Aluminum discharges by a factor of eight as result of their privately funded site-specific study; the same site-specific study that was recently rejected by the EPA. Is an economic disaster necessary if the Designated Use Standards for the upper reaches of the reservoir are not down graded to Intermediate Aquatic Life?  Lets recognize that the Lufkin Paper Mill is not the only market place for East Texas timber.  The paper mill claims that they can not possibly meet the stringent limits of a permit designed to maintain a High Aquatic Life Designation.  Just to put this statement in perspective, let me suggest that they can meet the more stringent requirement very easily - just limit the quantity of product.

A little research discloses some facts that are relevant to this issue. At present the Mill uses Chlorine as a bleaching agent. As in all paper mills using Chlorine as a bleaching agent, highly toxic Dioxin is produced and discharged as an unwanted byproduct. Keep this in mind when coming to conclusions on the validity of the good neighbor claim.  There is no doubt that totally Chlorine free bleaching is technically feasible and commercially viable. Four years ago, in 1996, there were 56 mills in Europe, 7 in Canada and 2 in the United States producing totally Chlorine-free (TCF) bleached pulp. TCF pulp now meets the markets most stringent standards for brightness and strength. Sixty percent of all chemical pulp production in Scandinavia was expected to be TCF by 2000.  

 Moreover, TCF is a prerequisite to closed loop operation in which NO SIGNIFCANT DISCHARGES TO SURFACE WATERS TAKES PLACE. There are currently paper mills operating closed loop.  Think about this. Paper Mills cannot operate closed loop using either elemental Chlorine bleach or Chlorine Dioxide as bleach because these materials are too corrosive.  Plumbing and equipment can't be maintained because of the corrosion problem; yet TNRCC expects nature to maintain the ecology while absorbing the corrosive,  highly toxic, extremely persistent,  biologically accumulative, products of pulp wood processing using Chlorine as bleach.. We ask too much of nature. Chlorine Dioxide bleaching is a low cost "drop in" substitute for Chlorine gas.  Two independent (from Paper mill owners) research groups have estimated the cost of TCF versus Chlorine Dioxide pulp paper processes.  Results of the research groups - one group estimated TFC would cost  $7 more per ton and the other estimated the cost at $6 LESS per ton. The following was excerpted from the Presidents Report of the Pulp Paper and Woodworkers of Canada, 38th Annual Convention, March 2000, Castlegar, B.C. "We must push for an environment strategy that includes chlorine-free paper mills, closed loop production, with more use of recycled fiber while moving up the value added chain."  . . . . .  "Without these changes we face more mill shutdowns and more gut wrenching adjustment by workers and communities."  See for the complete report. Is it possible that the U.S., and Texas in particular, has evolved into a third world status in issues of environmental responsibility?  The more you dig the more it seems apparent that we have.  Unless it can somehow be proven that TCF operation is not feasible a reduction in Designated Use Standards is not necessary  to the successful operation of the Paper Mill. The real issues here are profit margin and capital cost- $10 to $50 million dependent upon the size of the plant and its current technology.[i]

The $10 million figure is less than 5% of the $230 million that is being spent to "modernize" the Lufkin paper Mill - a small price to pay for the recreational and associated economic value of Sam Rayburn reservoir and a tenable community environment.

Aluminium - Questions - Herbicides - Herbicides II - Dioxins - Rayburn Propoganda - Dioxin Study

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