[GRRN] Fw: Over 120 Groups Ask For A Moratorium on Chlorine Use in New Recycling Mills

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Wed, 5 May 1999 05:21:38 -0400

April 15, 1999

Over 120 Groups Ask The US Environmental Protection Agency
For A Moratorium on Chlorine Use in New Paper Mills

Therese Vick
North Carolinians Acting For The Environment (NC ACT)
(252) 539-2728

Billy Stern
Native Forest Network (NFN)
(406) 542-7243, billysun@wildrockies.org

David Jenkins
American Canoe Association (ACA)

Rick Hind
(202) 319-2445

MISSOULA (MT) - Today over 120 groups from around the country and around
the world called on the EPA to place a moratorium on water and air
pollution permits for new pulp and paper mills planing to use
chlorine-based bleaching.

In a letter to Carol Browner, head of the US Environmental Protection
Agency, the groups note that the rules for permitting many types of new
mills are outdated. While the EPA is in the process of developing new rules
for secondary fiber (recycling) and various other types of pulp mills, the
letter asks that no new mills planning to use chlorine or chlorine
derivatives for bleaching be permitted.

"The EPA would be failing in its responcibility if it allows new mills to
use outdated technologies," said Billy Stern, Pulp and Paper Strategist of
the Native Forest Network. "The more the paper industry is allowed to
invest in these technologies, the more resistant they will be to the EPA's
efforts to tighten regulations."

The letter also notes that the risk of creating more persistent
bioaccumulative chemicals in chlorine-based bleaching processes is too
great, considering that effective and economical bleaching alternatives
already exist. Recent studies have noted that the average dioxin level in
human fatty tissue is at the point that it can cause cancer, immune
disorders, and birth defects.

These newer bleaching techniques, based on hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and
oxygen, have been developed by the industry over the last twenty years, and
are increasingly being used by environmentally responsible companies. These
new processes will ultimately allow the pulp and paper industry to approach
zero discharge of pollution while at the same time reducing costs.

The letter to the EPA started as a result of a controversy over the permit
request by Wisconsin Tissue Mills, Inc., of Menasha Wisconsin. Wisconsin
Tissue proposed to locate a new mill in Halifax County, North Carolina and
revealed their plans to use a chlorine derivative, sodium hypochlorite, to
bleach recycled pulp.

The mill would be located adjacent to the Roanoke River, discharging
chloroform and other chlorine chemicals into one of the most important
spawning areas in the state. Striped Bass fisheries in the river have
recently been restored to health through millions of taxpayer dollars and
tight fishing restrictions.

"Our community is unprotected by the lack of more stringent regulation,"
stated Therese Vick, NC ACT member. "Wisconsin Tissue will be permitted
under old standards that may not be protective of public health and the
environment. We have tried to convince Wisconsin Tissue to choose a
cleaner, safer alternative, to no avail. Eastern North Carolina is again in
the sights of polluting industry. We don't want this to happen to any other

Acting in conjunction, North Carolinians Acting For The Environment and
Native Forest Network wrote and distributed the letter, getting widespread
support from other social and environmental groups. Groups calling for the
moratorium included American Canoe Association, the Environmental Defense
Fund, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, the Indigenous Environmental
Network and USPIRG.

"The EPA needs to step up in its responsibility to uphold the Clean Water
Act's goal of zero discharge by making the pulp and paper industry invest
in the most advanced technologies that achieve this goal. Using chlorine
chemicals to bleach toilet paper is outdated, unhealthy and absurd," said
Laurie Valeriano, Policy Analyst for the Washington State based group, the
Washington Toxics Coalition. "The EPA has got to take a strong stand and
discourage new mills from using these obsolete technologies."

"I'm betting on an end to the use of chlorine in the pulp and paper
industry within ten years," added Billy Stern of the Native Forest Network.

A complete list of the groups signing the letter is available upon request.

Billy Stern
Pulp and Paper Strategist
Native Forest Network
Western North American Clearinghouse
Box 8251
Missoula, MT 59807
Ph: 406-542-7343
Fax: 406-542-7347
http://www.nfn.org.au -NFN Southern Hemisphere