Only weeks after announcing its intent to publish a study examining the science behind a controversial Georgia-Pacific pipeline, the St. Johns Riverkeeper has officially launched a campaign aimed at doing away with a waste-rerouting pipeline that could cause irreperable damage to Florida’s longest, and most commercially significant, river.
Only weeks after announcing its intent to publish a study examining the science behind a controversial Georgia-Pacific pipeline, the St. Johns Riverkeeper has officially launched a campaign aimed at doing away with a waste-rerouting pipeline that could cause irreparable damage to Florida’s longest, and most commercially significant, river. #
The G-P pipeline is considered by many to be a backward means of reducing pollution in Rice Creek, the body of water in which G-P’s effluent currently ends up. #
In an attempt to meet water-quality standards in Rice Creek, the paper giant sought a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 1994 that would allow it to relocate its existing wastewater discharge. In May 2001, the department issued the mill both a permit and an administrative order authorizing the “construction and operation of a pipeline to discharge the Mill wastewater into the St. Johns River only if Georgia-Pacific demonstrates that it cannot meet Class II water quality standards in Rice Creek.” #
The idea is that, by rerouting G-P’s effluent into a larger waterbody, the pollution will be diluted, but the refrain from area environmentalists is that ”dilution is not the solution to pollution.” #
The St. Johns River is already suffering the symptoms of nutrient pollution, and the addition of harmful chemicals from a paper mill certainly wouldn’t make matters better. A widespread algal bloom and fish kill in the summer of 2010 were widely reported, but other incidents — a rash of bird deaths, a sharp rise in dolphin deaths — flew largely under the radar. Whether those incidents came as a direct result of nutrient pollution from industry runoff isn’t clear — what is clear is that every incident likely wouldn’t have occurred unless the river was inundated with nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. #
As perhaps the river’s biggest ally, the St. Johns Riverkeeper has long been opposed to increasing the amount of pollution in the already sick waterbody. #
“Building a pipeline to relocate polluted wastewater to the heart of the St. Johns River is not a solution,” says the Riverkeeper’s Neil Armingeon. ”This will only add additional pollutants to a river that is already sick. We believe that viable alternatives exist that would allow G-P to meet water quality standards in Rice Creek, keep jobs in Putnam County and help protect the St. Johns River.” #
In a press release this morning, the environmental watchdog group announced its “Cleaner GP awareness campaign,” which aims to encourage Georgia-Pacific to “abandon its plans to build a pipeline to the St. Johns River and to pursue alternative solutions to its wastewater pollution problems.” #
The campaign website includes a petition addressed to Gov. Rick Scott, asking him to “require further toxicity testing of Georgia-Pacific’s wastewater and to require G-P to find an acceptable alternative that will protect the health of the St. Johns River.” #
In an environmental meeting in Jacksonville Beach earlier this month, the Riverkeeper’s executive director, Jimmy Orth, announced another facet of the campaign against the pipeline: an analysis of the Georgia-Pacific study that was used to justify the pipeline. #
According to the press release, the preliminary findings (completed by a team of water-quality experts and engineers) indicate that “viable alternatives exist and important questions about the pipeline remain unanswered.” The final results of the technical review will be released sometime in the near future. #
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