ST. JOHNS RIVER Pipelines and Politics

Article excerpt

By tacitly conceding that Georgia-Pacific's plan to run a pipeline into the St. Johns River will not harm the river, state regulators are helping bring to a close a long-standing dispute that has generated much misinformation.

The paper mill in Palatka, a major employer and taxpayer, will be allowed nine years to try improvements regulators think will make the mill's discharge cleaner.

However, if it does not meet standards, the mill may build the pipeline.

For more than 50 years that it has been in operation, the mill has discharged effluent into nearby Rice Creek.

The creek carries the effluent into the St. Johns.

Environmental standards have changed during that time and the mill has kept pace.

However, newer standards would make it more difficult. The dispute has been over the best way to meet those standards.

Mill engineers said rerouting the effluent directly into the mainstream of the river through a pipeline would allow better dilution of the effluent than allowing it to seep into the river's edge. As a secondary benefit, Rice Creek would regain its health after the plant discharge is rerouted.

People who apparently did not understand the process have contended that the pipeline would harm the river. …

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