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EPA Rule Re. Elimination of Dioxin Discharges at Paper Mills

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From: Wayne Pferdehirt (
Date: Mon Nov 17 1997 - 11:04:02 CST

For your info:


     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a rule that
will virtually eliminate dioxin discharges into waterways and reduce
many other toxic pollutants into air and water from the nation's pulp
and paper mills that produce bleached paper products. This action
will protect the health of millions of American families who live near
pulp and paper mills.

     EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, "Today we are taking
significant steps to protect the health of millions of American
families from contaminated air and water from pulp and paper mills.
This action puts us well on our way to cleaning up more than 70 rivers
and streams throughout the nation."

     Today's action for pulping and bleaching mills will result in:

       A 96 percent reduction in dioxin, resulting in undetectable
levels to waterways;

       A nearly 60 percent reduction in toxic air pollutants, equal
to160,000 tons annually. Volatile organic compounds, precursors to
smog, and odor-causing sulfur emissions will be reduced by nearly
half. Particulate matter will be cut by 37 percent;

       The expedited cleanup of 73 rivers and streams around the
nation due to reductions in discharges of toxic pollutants.

     To encourage individual mills to achieve even greater reductions
beyond the requirements of the rules, EPA is setting up a first-ever,
innovative voluntary incentives program. Mills volunteering for the
program will be subject to more stringent reductions, but, in return,
receive rewards for their participation, such as additional compliance

     Today's rule also adds flexibility because it is a coordinated,
simultaneous effort under both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air
Act that allows mills to select the best combination of pollution
prevention and control technologies to achieve pollution reductions.

     Dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive effects, immune response
and skin disorders. One way dioxins are produced is by the addition
of chlorine to the pulp and bleaching process. The new rule announced
today will eliminate the use of elemental chlorine in the bleaching

     Approximately, l55 pulp and paper mills around the country will
be affected by the air pollution controls. The rule applies to paper
and paperboard-producing mills, referred to in the industry as the
kraft, soda, sulfite, and semi-chemical mills. Of those 155 mills, 96
that bleach pulp to make paper are also affected by the water
discharge limits.

     Today's rule will eliminate, over time, all dioxin-based fish
advisories that have been attributed to the mills, particularly
benefiting subsistence fishers who depend primarily on fish for food.

     EPA estimates the industry will need to invest approximately $1.8
billion in capital expenditures to be in compliance with these
combined rules. Other proposed alternatives would have cost the
industry an additional billion dollars or more.

      The rules and additional information are available on the
Internet at: The rules are expected
to be published in the Federal Register in mid-January.

Wayne P. Pferdehirt, P.E., AICP
U. of Wis., Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center
610 Langdon Street, Room 529, Madison, WI 53703-1195
Phone: 608/265-2361 Fax: 608/262-6250

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