EPA fines Clearwater Paper over alleged pollution violations

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

Clearwater Paper Company has agreed to pay a civil penalty and upgrade pollution control equipment at its Lewiston pulp and paper mill to address alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The Lewiston Tribune reports ( ) that Clearwater Paper will pay $300,000 in fines plus interest to the federal government and spend $800,000 to address problems that led to the violation.

According to the agreement, which was filed in federal court Tuesday, the alleged violations involved the release of total reduced sulfur and methanol and were documented after an Environmental Protection Agency inspection of the mill in 2009.

Scott Downey, manager of air compliance for EPA's Region 10 office based in Seattle, said inspectors noticed emissions coming from doors on a pulp washer at the mill and detected other emissions from a sawdust digester.

"It was a violation but it was not an imminent threat to public health," said EPA spokesman Mark MacIntyre. "If we saw a big enough problem there with their operation, such that we thought it might have immediate health effects, we have other emergency powers we can us. In this case that is not what we saw."

Following the inspection and notice of violation, the company spent $43,000 to replace doors on the pulp washer to mitigate the first source, and will spend $800,000 to fix emissions from the sawdust digester.

Clearwater Paper spokesman Matt Van Vleet says the company disagrees with the agency's reasoning for the fine.

"There was never risk to human health or the broader environment and the site had been visited after our controls had been put in place, prior to 2009, by environmental personnel without any indication there were any problems," Van Vleet said. "However, we are paying the fine and making some equipment changes to avoid lengthy and costly litigation."

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