The St. Johns Riverkeeper yesterday unveiled its study of the implications behind the construction and use of a pipeline to re-route the effluent from Georgia-Pacific’s Palatka paper mill into the larger St. Johns River. The decision to construct the pipeline came as the result of several weeks of testimony, much of which drew on a study by environmental consulting firm Brown & Caldwell that concluded that there were no viable alternatives to a pipeline, which would ensure that G-P meets water quality standards in Palatka’s Rice Creek.
As a watchdog group for the struggling St. Johns, The Riverkeeper has long spoken out against the pipeline, arguing that it would further contribute to the River’s algal blooms and fish kills, both of which are symptomatic of nutrient pollution. Its newly released report (.pdf) concludes that the Brown and Caldwell study is not only deficient in evidence but failed in its conclusion that a pipeline is a viable option.
In a statement to The Florida Independent, G-P’s Public Relations Coordinator Jeremy Alexander expressed his dissatisfaction with the Riverkeeper’s study. Saying that “the Riverkeeper does not identify any technology that will enable Georgia-Pacific to meet water quality standards in Rice Creek in the report,” Alexander said that the study does little in the way of offering another option to the pipeline. “The basis for the Riverkeeper’s ‘fact sheet’ relies on a process that does not exist in our facility…[as] the Palatka mill does not add alum in its wastewater treatment ponds.”
Though he disagrees with the basis for the Riverkeeper’s study, Alexander says that G-P’s “commitment to achieving water quality compliance has not changed.”