Union members from KapStone Paper along with their environmental allies rallied outside the Environmental Protection Agency regional office in Seattle today (Thursday August 6) at 1 pm to demand that the EPA take action to stop KapStone in Longview from polluting the nearby river and killing smelt, an endangered species.
KapStone Paper, which in a recent press release about sustainability stated that they have a "commitment to social responsibility" that "extend(s) well beyond applicable laws and regulations," is in fact a significant polluter of the river in Longview, in violation of the endangered species act, and is operating in ways that don't meet federally mandated environmental standards (http://ir.kapstonepaper.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=190219&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2075478).
Kurt Gallow, President of Local 153 of the Association of Pulp and Paper Workers Union, explained: "Our 800 members recently learned that KapStone Paper is killing smelt, an endangered species, and harming our river. Most of our members and our neighbors in Longview enjoy the local river. The fact that KapStone, which is owned by outside investors, is disrespecting Longview and its natural resources makes us angry."
Kathleen Ridihalgh, Senior Organizing Manager with the Sierra Club, added: "We are all have a stake in a healthy Longview clean air, safe water, and good jobs. Our rivers are a vital resource for all of us. They contribute to the local economy, and millions of us enjoy them for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. KapStone has acted irresponsibly and not followed the rules, harming endangered fish and our whole community. We stand with our union brothers and sisters to ensure KapStone commits to keeping its promises and following the rules, to protect its workers and our community."
KapStone's antiquated water intake system is poorly screened and is killing fish. Their water pollution permit expired years ago and is finally being renewed this year. The proposed permit allows discharges of highly acidic water (5.7 pH) several times every month, which is too high a level. It has no permit limits on water usage. The permit does not limit the effluent's discharge temperature and the mill routinely dumps 20-30 million gallons daily of water that is well over 90 degrees.
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