The Washington Department of Ecology has fined WestRock CP, LLC $52,500 for failing to adequately treat hazardous air pollutants at their Tacoma mill.
The company’s air quality permit requires them to use their wastewater system to treat hazardous air pollutants – primarily methanol – dissolved in certain wastewater streams generated during the paper-making process. Treatment of these pollutants in the wastewater system prevents them from being released into the air. WestRock demonstrates compliance with the requirement by performing periodic performance tests.
During a performance test on April 17, 2022, WestRock received test results indicating that it failed to sufficiently reduce the amount of these hazardous air pollutants contained in the wastewater streams to meet levels set in the company’s air quality permit. WestRock demonstrated compliance with the limits during a subsequent performance test on May 11, 2022.
In addition to the penalty, Ecology is issuing a compliance order that will temporarily require WestRock to perform more frequent performance tests to determine the amount of hazardous air pollutants they are treating in their wastewater treatment plant. The company will also be required to establish new wastewater treatment plant operating parameters that they must comply with between performance tests.
Hazardous air pollutants can endanger public health. Sensitive groups like children, adults over 65, and people with respiratory issues are particularly vulnerable to these types of pollutants.
Ecology uses penalties and compliance orders as enforcement tools to prevent and discourage future instances of non-compliance.
WestRock has 30 days to pay the fine, or to appeal the penalty to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.