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Clean and healthy air is the starting point for a healthy environment and a vibrant, healthy community.
PT AirWatchers has been working since 2007 to bring together community members who are concerned about pollution from the Port Townsend Paper Mill (PTPC), to uncover all of the mill’s forms of pollution and corporate entitlements at the expense of the community, and to get oversight and assistance in making them clean it up.
On any number of measures, PTPC places more burdens on the people and environment than any other party in our area, and often more than all others combined.
The mill’s 100-year history of polluting creates an enormous toxic legacy that will need to be cleaned up. As it is now, taxpayers stand to foot the bill. We aim to make sure that PTPC cleans up and is contractually bound to bear the full cost and burden.
Some of our successes in uncovering toxic secrets of the mill:
- The onsite ash dump/landfill — getting it actively overseen, raising awareness and questions about what’s in it, what happens when it reaches capacity in a dozen or two years?
- CO2 emissions — a national false accounting scheme that had allowed them to claim as much as 90% reductions in CO2 emissions without any actual reduction in numbers!
- Toxic Tresspass — PTPC spews close to 4 million! pounds of noxious chemicals 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 pouring from a 35-acre treatment pond were completely ignored by the regulators (WA Dept of Ecology). We’ve gotten Ecology to start addressing them, and meanwhile, we ask, What’s in the sludge that PTPC dredges 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 in 2019? A deal that was made for services done in the late 1920’s, repeatedly re-extended even though re-paid in full shortly thereafter, and 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!
- “Toxic Legacy” questions — who pays to remediate the entire site when/if the mill were to shut down? why aren’t we requiring the mill start cleaning it up now and how can we be sure that taxpayers aren’t stuck with the bill?
- 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!
Despite periodic improvements to meet regulatory standards (typically as minimally as possible), PTPC’s total (regulated) toxic release numbers remain virtually unchanged. And it still stinks unbearably. Why?
Ultimately the community has to come together to resolve this. We are suffering, sickened. Our families and businesses suffer.
We are smart, strong and creative enough to make a town that supports a variety of professions, maritime and blue collar trades, etc. that don’t make people sick.
PTPC’s pollution has continued for too long. It has become little more than a tax write-off for whatever hedge fund currently owns it.
The mill should be held to cleaning up its operations. We should not have to choose between jobs and health.