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Citizens Voice Concern About Air Quality Issues With New GP Project

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held a public hearing in Toledo on July 8th to receive public comment on proposed modifications to the Georgia Pacific (GP) Toledo air quality permit, known as a Title V permit. The company has tested a pilot project at another GP facility to recover wood fiber from municipal solid waste generated at commercial establishments. This is known as the JUNO Technology, a patented process, which can recover more fiber and reduce waste more sustainably.

Juno extracts the usable fiber from landfill waste and feeds it into the existing pulping process, while stripping away plastic coatings and food contamination that make many paper products un-recyclable. Other recovered items can be returned to their respective recycling streams while diverting millions of tons of waste from landfills. While GP tested this technology via a pilot project at another facility, the Toledo mill demonstration is designed to prove it on a commercial scale.

Allan and Kayleen Davis testified at the hearing and asked that DEQ deny the additional permit, citing poor air quality in and around the Toledo area right now and voiced concerns of additional work from the JUNO project. Kayleen asked for an air quality monitor in Lincoln County. They stated concerns of health issues, including high cancer rates due to breathing air from near the mill. Betty Kamikawa testified about the poor air quality, especially east of Toledo.

She also expressed concerns about the amount of trucks on the roads and the potential for even more. "I am also concerned about the unknown and untested compounds. There are 501 hazardous pollutants that are pumped into the air in Toledo." She added that these are what are deemed acceptable by DEQ. Kamakawa stated that it is time to make changes and tell the government that the citizens have had enough. "They need to require stricter levels on all of these things, and no more grandfathering in."

According to Gary Andes with the DEQ this is a new piece of equipment, and the emissions are very small, particularly in relation to what the mill emits at this point doing other stuff. Andes explained the mill has to acquire a permit from the DEQ to operate the new technology. Others at the hearing voiced support for the new project and the increase in jobs that it will bring to the area. The permit the company is currently applying for would require the GP mill to monitor pollutants using federally-approved monitoring practices and standards. The permit would also require the mill to test the new system to verify the emission levels.

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