Permit for Georgia-Pacific Is a Bad Idea for the River

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

It's mind-boggling that this is still being talked about.

It's even more mind-boggling that the inappropriately named Florida Department of Environmental Protection has given its blessing to a plan by the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Palatka to dump its polluted wastewater into the middle of the St. Johns River.

Opponents of the Georgia-Pacific proposal had hoped a stake had been driven through the heart of this insanity several years ago, but unfortunately it's still alive and kicking.

In case you've forgotten, Georgia-Pacific wants to build a 4-mile pipeline from its mill to the middle of the St. Johns River.

In the mid-1990s, the company asked the DEP for a permit to build the pipeline and to dump up to 60 million gallons of poisonous effluent into the river every day. That would be 22 BILLION gallons a year.

For 50 years, the company had been dumping the junk into Rice Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns, pretty much destroying the creek as habitat for everything but mutated fish.

Fearing tougher water quality standards for tributaries, Georgia-Pacific faced a dilemma: Either do a better job of cleaning up its wastewater or find some place else to put it.

Bingo. Georgia-Pacific opted for the inanity that the solution to pollution is dilution and chose to build a pipeline.

Then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said, hold on, the better approach is to do a better job of treating the effluent.

After several years of head-banging negotiations -- accompanied by much moaning and groaning from Georgia-Pacific -- the company agreed to make improvements in the mill. …