Clean and healthy air is the starting point for a healthy environment and a vibrant, healthy community.
What we’re about…
PT AirWatchers‘ primary goal is to eliminate pollution from the Port Townsend Paper Mill (PTPC) in Port Townsend WA, and to see that their full operating and cleanup costs are shifted off of taxpayers and back to the mill and its owners.
We deal with many sources of air pollution according to concerns and energies of our members and constituencies.
But with nearly 10 years of work and study, we see that in any number of types of pollution and burdens on the community, those from the Port Townsend Paper mill far outstrip those of all other parties combined.
Port Townsend Paper’s pollution damages the environment and endangers the health of residents and visitors, especially elders, children and even that of people working at the plant.
Their 100-year history of polluting creates an enormous toxic legacy on and around the site that will need to be cleaned up — either by them or by us. We feel that PTPC should bear the full cost and burden.
Further, they must start shouldering their full ongoing costs of doing business.
Some of the mill’s toxic legacy, such as their signature menu of stink, have been very obvious; much has come to light only through research and investigation.
- The onsite ash dump/landfill — what’s in it, what happens when it reaches capacity in a dozen or two years?
- CO2 emissions — false accounting allows them to claim reductions in CO2 emissions without any actual reduction in numbers!
- Toxic Tresspass — over 500,000 pounds of noxious chemicals are spewed over the town every year, requiring teachers to air out their classrooms in the morning before children come in, and the hospital to close vents when trade winds come their way;
- ASB — fumes pour off on-site 35-acre process waste treatment “pond.” What’s in the sludge that they dredge from the pond? Heavy metals? PBTs (persistent bioaccumulative toxins)? Dioxins and furans? Where is it dumped — onsite? sent to a poorly accounted for “somewhere else”? spread on fields as “beneficial reuse”?
- Water — will the City start requiring PTPC to pay for their water usage when the mill’s sweetheart deal with the City is renegotiated over the next couple of years? A deal that was made for services done in the early 1900’s; repeatedly re-extended even though re-paid in full early last century; which allows them to use more water than all other users combined — for free — while the City claims that giving a break to a handful of poor customers will break the system!
- “Legacy” questions — who pays to remediate the entire site when/if the mill were to shut down? what will it take? why aren’t we requiring the mill start cleaning it up now?
- Port Townsend Bay — more heavy metals and noxious chemicals are dumped annually, directly into Port Townsend Bay!
- What was dumped for decades and decades before the start of EPA oversight? From what old timers tell us, it isn’t pretty!
*to learn more, click here. For data, please click here. [link to “data” & “more” pages]
The mill can operate cleanly and they can clean up the toxic legacy they’ve created through decades of dumping. The technology exists. It’s a matter of corporate will.
When required by law they’ve taken steps to clean up some processes. Yet, their total (regulated) toxic release numbers remain virtually unchanged.
Ultimately the community needs to decide: What would healthy options for our town look like? Can we create support the trades, small business, white collar professionals, farmers, creatives, and retirees, along with a healthy environment? What physical products do we use in our every day life, and are there healthy, environmentally sound solutions? Do we have the will to make these real?
Whatever the answers to these questions, PT AirWatchers strongly feels that we — our residents, visitors and workers — should not have to choose between jobs and health.
The community has waited … and waited … We need answers and cleanup. PTPC’s 100-year legacy of toxic pollution needs to stop NOW. Cleanup should start NOW, at the mill’s expense, not that of the state or taxpayers.