IP in final stages of US$60M plan to mitigate polluting of Perdido Bay from its containerboard and fluff pulp mill in Cantonment, Florida; project would reduce effluent's nutrients by filtering outflow through nearby wetlands

LOS ANGELES , August 13, 2012 () –

International Paper Co.’s (IP) containerboard and fluff pulp mill in Cantonment, Florida, is in the final stages of a US$60-million project that aims to mitigate its wastewater pollution into Perdido Bay, reported the Pensacola News Journal via pnj.com on Aug. 12.

The system involves using a nearby wetlands to filter the outflow from the mill into the bay. The mill’s discharges into Eleven Mile Creek, a tributary of Perdido Bay, already exceed state Dept. of Environmental Protection water-quality requirements, said Wade Nutter.

Nutter, a retired University of Georgia professor of hydrology and soils who now owns an Athens, Georgia-based consulting company, was hired by IP to determine the best use of a 2,600-acre wetlands site north of Perdido Bay, the newspaper reported.

The plan is to reduce the nutrients in the mill’s effluent to naturally-occurring levels before they reach Perdido Bay, which environmental regulators classify as “impaired.” The mill, which IP bought from Champion International Corp. in 2000, has been under a consent order since 1989.

It includes upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, building a 10-mile-long underground pipeline by next March to carry the effluent from the mill to IP-owned land and distributing the outflow over a 2,600-acre wetlands, reported the Pensacola News Journal.

Currently at about the halfway point in the project, “everything we’ve seen so far, it’s been very successful,” said Carl Gunter, plant manager. “This system is a showcase for the pulp industry and how it does business,” he said.

Not everyone agrees. While the wetlands system will reduce more solids from the treated mill discharges, it won’t totally remove the solids or the chemicals, said Keith Walkins, director of Escanaba County’s Community & Environment Dept., the newspaper reported.

It’s not certain that the system will effectively filter out the sulfates, oxygen, nitrogen and nutrients from the effluent, said Jackie Lane, president of Friends of the Perdido Bay and a retire biologist. She believes the effluent will accumulate in the wetlands’ lagoons and overflow into the bay.

The Cantonment mill, which produces some 650,000 tons of paper products annually, has been discharging its effluent that is rich in nutrients—mostly phosphorus and nitrogen—into the Perdido Bay via Eleven Mile Creek since the 1940s, reported the Pensacola News Journal.

The primary source of this article is the Pensacola News Journal, at pnj.com. Pensacola, Florida, on Aug. 12, 2012.


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