Shut­down de­lays paper-mill hear­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

A pub­lic hear­ing sched­uled for Tues­day night re­gard­ing a state and fed­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal set­tle­ment with Geor­gia-Pa­cific has been in­def­i­nitely post­poned be­cause of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down, the Arkansas Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity con­firmed Fri­day.

The depart­ment said the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency had sched­uled this week’s pub­lic hear­ing on the agen­cies’ mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar con­sent de­cree with Geor­gia-Pa­cific in Cros­sett.

The con­sent de­cree or­ders that the com­pany’s Cros­sett paper mill be fined $600,000 for a 2015 in­spec­tion that found leaks and flaws in the com­pany’s man­age­ment of haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants, such as formalde­hyde.

The con­sent de­cree or­ders sev­eral ad­di­tional mea­sures, es­ti­mated to cost mil­lions of dol­lars, based on com­plaints from res­i­dents re­gard­ing ex­ces­sive hy­dro­gen sul­fide in the air, which of­ten causes them breath­ing trou­bles. Nei­ther the de­cree nor the in­spec­tion state any spe­cific find­ings or vi­o­la­tions re­lated to hy­dro­gen sul­fide.

Last year, the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette re­ported the plant emit­ted more hy­dro­gen sul­fide than the com­pany’s per­mit al­lowed. Lev­els were high enough to cre­ate an odor with the po­ten­tial to cause breath­ing prob­lems.

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