Residents Voice Concerns Over Paper Mill Runoff

The 50-year-old Buckeye plant in Taylor County has opened up numerous jobs for nearby residents, but it's the plant's salty wastewater tunneled into nearby Fenholloway River that's caused concern among residents.

Michele Curtis, Buckeye Florida L.P., says, "The issue is if you put salt water in a freshwater stream, organisms don't like it, and that's what the issue with the river is. We're putting saltwater into a freshwater stream."

Since the mid 1990's, Buckeye officials have proposed to tunnel the wastewater further upstream via pipelines doing less harm to the river, but the Environmental Protection Agency has had objections with the new proposal since 1998.

Thursday night's public hearing put on by the EPA offered a chance for Buckeye officials, members of the Florida Department of Environment Protection and residents to sound off on the issue of the new permit.

Jerry Brooks with the Florida DEP says over the years many of the EPA's objections have been resolved.

"There is data that has actually been generated by Dr. Skip Livingston, who is actually a contractor for the Buckeye in this particular case doing research with the Apalachicola system," says Brooks.

One area resident says whether Buckeye receives their new permit or not, Fenholloway River is and will be the big loser.

"Skip Livingston, who had studied the mill, studied the river for a long time before he began the official study, already knows this, the river can never be returned to its original state, everyone knows that," says resident Janice Jackson

Concerns cited by the EPA on this matter include issues involving biological monitoring and the controlling of dioxine.

Following Thursday night's meeting, the EPA will either reaffirm, modify or withdraw their objections with regard to issuing the new permit to the Buckeye plant.