The Port Townsend Paper Corporation has been fined $30,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology for two incidents in 2016 that led to emissions from the plant bypassing its control systems.
The first release happened in August after corrosion created a 1-inch hole in a duct at the plant, allowing small-particle pollution and other emissions to escape. The leak represented less than 1 percent of the plant’s emissions, and an assessment by an Ecology toxicologist indicated it did not pose a threat to human health. Because of the difficulty in reaching and repairing the leak, it was not fixed until the plant shut down for scheduled maintenance in September.
The second release occurred in November, when a damper in one of the plant’s main exhaust stacks became stuck, allowing some of the emissions to escape. Routine testing revealed the issue, and the plant corrected the problem after receiving the results.
“Proper maintenance and oversight of emissions equipment is an essential part of operating a pulp and paper mill,” said James DeMay, manager of Ecology’s Industrial Section, which regulates the plant. “Port Townsend Paper has made improvements to its procedures that should help to prevent similar problems in the future.”
The company may appeal Ecology’s penalty within 30 days to state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.
“These issues were corrected in a timely manner and we have made the necessary improvements to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Mike Craft, mill manager at Port Townsend Paper.
“We appreciate Ecology’s cooperation and acknowledgment that the release did not pose a threat to human health.”