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1997 News Releases


Nation's Pulp and Paper Mills to Reduce Pollutants

Release Date: 11/14/1997
Contact Information: Jeff Philip
(206) 553-1465 or 1-800-424-4EPA

NOVEMBER 14, 1997 - - - - - - - - - - HQ - 164

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a rule that will virtually eliminate dioxin discharges into waterways and reduce many other toxic pollutants into air and water from the nation's pulp and paper mills that produce bleached paper products. This action will protect the health of millions of American families who live near pulp and paper mills.

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, "Today we are taking significant steps to protect the health of millions of American families from contaminated air and water from pulp and paper mills. This action puts us well on our way to cleaning up more than 70 rivers and streams throughout the nation."

Today's action for pulping and bleaching mills will result in:
  • A 96 percent reduction in dioxin, resulting in undetectable levels to waterways;
  • A nearly 60 percent reduction in toxic air pollutants, equal to 160,000 tons annually. Volatile organic compounds, precursors to smog, and odor-causing sulfur emissions will be reduced by nearly half. Particulate matter will be cut by 37 percent;
  • The expedited cleanup of 73 rivers and streams around the nation due to reductions in discharges of toxic pollutants.

To encourage individual mills to achieve even greater reductions beyond the requirements of the rules, EPA is setting up a first-ever, innovative voluntary incentives program. Mills volunteering for the program will be subject to more stringent reductions, but, in return, receive rewards for their participation, such as additional compliance time.

Today's rule also adds flexibility because it is a coordinated, simultaneous effort under both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act that allows mills to select the best combination of pollution prevention and control technologies to achieve pollution reductions.

Dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive effects, immune response and skin disorders. One way dioxins are produced is by the addition of chlorine to the pulp and bleaching process. The new rule announced today will eliminate the use of elemental chlorine in the bleaching process.

Approximately, l55 pulp and paper mills around the country will be affected by the air pollution controls. The rule applies to paper and paperboard-producing mills, referred to in the industry as the kraft, soda, sulfite, and semi-chemical mills. Of those 155 mills, 96 that bleach pulp to make paper are also affected by the water discharge limits.

Today's rule will eliminate, over time, all dioxin-based fish advisories that have been attributed to the mills, particularly benefiting subsistence fishers who depend primarily on fish for food.

EPA estimates the industry will need to invest approximately $1.8 billion in capital expenditures to be in compliance with these combined rules. Other proposed alternatives would have cost the industry an additional billion dollars or more.

The rules and additional information are available on the Internet at: The rules are expected to be published in the Federal Register in mid-January.