Friends of Perdido Bay
10738 Lillian Highway
Pensacola, FL 32506
Tidings The Newsletter of the Friends of Perdido Bay
September/October 2006 Volume 19 Number 4 Jackie Lane -Editor
Friends of Perdido Bay meeting scheduled for November 16, 2006
Every one is invited to a Friends of Perdido Bay general meeting scheduled for November 16, 2006 at the Lillian Community Club beginning at 7:00 PM. We will be bringing everyone up to date on the latest news in our fight against the permit which Florida DEP is trying to issue to International Paper Company. So far no permit has been issued and we are hopeful that no permit will be issued.
A Little Short
As of the end of September, Friends of Perdido Bay’s legal bills for the hearing preparation and hearing including expert witnesses have amounted to $95,000. The Perdido Bay Foundation has contributed $50,000 and donations amounted to about $11,000. The Lane family has contributed $23,000. We estimate however that it will require another $20,000 to finish the hearing process. We are asking again for donations. Thank you for your past help.
The Next Step
The hearing ended July 28th. Eleven days were spent in Court presenting evidence through witnesses. IP had four witnesses. DEP had one witness, Bill Evans. Friends of Perdido Bay and the Lane family had 13 witnesses. Several of Friends members testified about the terrible condition of the bay. We currently have to write a “Proposed Recommended Order” which is due October 13, 2006. In this proposed recommended order (abbreviated PRO), we have to present our side of the argument. This requires that we use facts from the hearing and evidence presented to show that the limits which are being proposed in the permit will not meet Florida’s standards and protect Perdido Bay. Because the limits are too high, we are going to ask the judge to reject the Permit. IP has said repeatedly that they are not going to do any more improvements to the mill until they get their permit. If they get their permit, IP is going to convert the mill to primarily producing brown paper (cardboard).
For this conversion and upgrade of the Cantonment mill, IP has said that they will spend $200 million. From our 20 years of experience in fighting the paper mill, we know that few projects actually proceed as planned or rather as advertized. Matter of fact, this was the weakest part of IP’s argument in the hearing. Midway during the discovery process for the hearing, IP decided to change their production at the Cantonment mill from 100% bleached to primarily brown. While converting to brown paper production may be better for the environment, the bad part of the conversion is a planned increase in production. IP plans to increase production from 1,500 tons per day of bleached pulp to a combination of 2,000 tons per day of unbleached and 500 tons of bleached. IP presented very little evidence to show how this conversion was going to effect their effluent. Is the strategy behind this approach - the less we know about the project the less we can attack? In spite of the lack of “reasonable assurance” or other information, DEP still intends to give IP a permit. No wonder - David Struhs who was once Secretary for DEP is now an IP Vice Prersident.
Air Permit Challenged Also
As part of IP’s planned conversion to brown paper (cardboard), IP has also applied for an air construction permit. This pattern of seeking a water permit and then seeking an air permit with increased production limits in the air permit is similar to events 13 years ago. So the air permit was not unexpected. What was unexpected was the request to increase certain air pollutants, especially those which cause ozone formation from current levels.
Nitrous oxides and volatile organic carbons (VOCs) combine in the atmosphere to make ozone. Ozone at ground level is bad because it damages the respiratory system. Ozone in the upper atmosphere is good because it blocks the UV radiation of the sun. Nitrous oxides are products of combustion, especially coal combustion. Volatile Organic carbons are emitted from the manufacturing process and from the evaporation of compounds such as methanol from IP’s open ponds. The largest producer of nitrous oxides in this area is the power company, Gulf Power. Solutia ranks second and IP third in the amount of nitrous oxides produced in this area. All three of these companies emit nitrous oxides from the burning of coal and other fuel for their power generators.
In 2002, Escambia County was one of only two counties in Florida which was violating the ozone limit of the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act specifies that a three year average of 8-hour daily ozone readings be used to calculate the yearly ozone concentration (the calculation is more complex than this). The last few years Escambia County has been able to meet the ozone standard, but just barely. If an area is violating the ozone standard, the federal government can withhold federal funds for highways, can deny permits, and other drastic things. My question is - If IP is allowed to increase their nitrous oxide and VOC emissions, will this cause this area to violate the ozone standard once again? So far, no one has been able to answer this question. Supposedly IP should have been required to do air modeling to affirmatively demonstrate that these emission increases would not cause violations. But air modeling is expensive. So, as with the effects of the conversion to brown paper on the wastewater treatment plant, no one is really sure what is going to happen with the air. The theory behind this strategy, the less you know the better.
IP also is planning on increasing the emissions of fine particles. Again, as with ozone, the increase in air particles may cause this area to violate the Clean Air Standard for particulates. This is a very unhealthy situation.
In a recent study which was just released by the Partnership for a Healthy Community 2005, Escambia County’s overall health status was not good. Compared with two other counties in Florida with similar demographics, Escambia County’s Health Status for Age-Adjusted Cancer was unfavorable with respect to all cancer mortalities (White, Black and Other); breast cancer mortality for Whites; colorectal mortality for Blacks; Lung Cancer Mortality for White, Blacks and Others; Prostate Cancer mortality for Whites; and smoking related cancer mortality for Whites, Blacks and Others. I am sure that these statistics are not widely spread by the Chamber of Commences of this area. But it is no surprise to those who follow the environmental health of this area. A look at the website www.scorecard.org tells you how bad things really are. Escambia County ranks 16th of 3,000 U.S. counties in hazardous air emissions. If you live in the areas near IP, Solutia, Gulf Power’s Crist Plant, Air Products, Sterling Fibers, Armstrong World Industries, Reichold Chemicals and Arizona Chemicals, you are especially at risk. Escambia County is in the upper 10% of the worst counties in the country for nitrogen oxide emissions, and volatile organic carbon emissions and in the upper 20% of the worst counties for emissions of particles. Why would DEP allow more of these air emissions? If the production of IP were limited, emissions of air pollutants would not increase.
Several people who live in Cantonment and myself (Jackie Lane) have challenged the air permit. We are seeking answers to our question - will the increase in the air pollutants cause Escambia County to violate the ozone and particulate limit?
Ester’s Class Action Lawsuit
Running concurrently with Friends of Perdido Bay’s challenge of the IP wastewater permit, is a lawsuit which was filed by Steve Medina back in 1999. This lawsuit which we have reported on many times in these newsletters is interesting. It is interesting because it never seems to go any where. Both sides have heavy legal hitters, big law firms. Both sides have spent a lot of money in expert witnesses, paper, and taking depositions. But it looks to me as an intervenor in the lawsuit, like no one is going to get to the answer about what happened to the bay in 2000 and why the bay has looked so bad ever since IP took the mill over. Yes, we know from Dr. Livingston’s testimony in the permit hearings that there was a big decline in the flora and fauna of the bay in the 2002 time frame. He attributed the decline to a spill of chlorine from some unknown source in 2002. But the bay really took a turn for the worst in 2000. We looked back at our notes. The massive kill of both plants and animals in early 2000 was reported to DEP. DEP blamed the die- off on a drought. The drought has long since ended and the bay has not recovered. Tests done in the bay in 2005 for the TMDL program by DEP biologists found a “dead” bay. Why? What has IP done to cause this decline? In spite of all the heavy legal power in the class action lawsuit, we may never find out. You have to ask the right questions. You have to know when IP is lying. You have to really want to clean up Perdido Bay rather than wanting to save jobs or keeping the paper mill out of Escambia Bay. Do the attorneys in the class action lawsuit have the cleanup of Perdido Bay as their main concern or is their main concern keeping the paper mill operating? Are law suits basically paying Perdido Bay residents for the damage to their properties while allowing continual pollution? Are lawsuits similar to a “taking of our property rights”? I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I have started to wonder.
There is a hearing scheduled for the class certification on October 27, 2006 at 8:30 AM at the Escambia County Courthouse. Judge Michael Jones is the presiding judge. If the hearing is not cancelled (as has happened in the past), we will be there.
Reprint of a Good Article (From the Orlando Sentinel- September 19, 2006; Reprinted with permission of the author Alan Farago)
“You don’t know whether to laugh or cry, reading in the newspapers that the public ranks the environment as a low order of concern. Let me tell you when the environment is the No. 1 concern: When you discover your cancer could have been caused by contaminants in the drinking water or that your child’s learning disability was due to overexposure to mercury.”
“Most public opinion polls don’t ask the question this way: If you had a serious illness and knew your breast or prostate cancer was due to decisions by legislators on the environment, would you be more or less inclined to cast your vote for the environment? In that case, every single voter in America is an environmentalist.”
“These days, in Florida, if you are a real-estate agent near coastal estuaries, or a homeowner where sinkholes are popping up around you, if you work near a beach where algae blooms made your eyes water or make you feel like puking, you should vote the environment. Right? What if your child had asthma? The worst hours of my life were spent walking the hallway with my infant son hacking and wheezing on my shoulder—wondering if he would breathe through the night– this feeling of helplessness, of powerlessness, all traced to the harm we do the environment and to ourselves. Ah, you ask: Where’s the proof?”
“On a “1 percent chance” that a threat will be realized, the United States is charging a trillion-dollar investment to hunt for terrorists like needles in a haystack. So much for proof. Why do naysayers on the environment demand more evidence than polar ice caps melting in Greenland, or the effect of endocrine disrupters on life in its development stages, or poorly regulated chemicals in new construction materials that can trigger severe respiratory illness? Better to run, now, like a bat out of hell to vote out politicians and Legislatures that support special-interests fudging data, controlling government agencies or writing legislation to their own benefit. You can always wait to vote for the environment until you or someone you love gets a terminal illness. You can always wait until you are curious enough to do a little research and discover there are too many causes to attribute cancer to a single reason, and then dig deeper and discover how little funding there is from government to search for causes traceable to the environment. And then you can further find that the government charged with protecting your health, safety and welfare has erected barriers that allow no one in or out except those with the special pass to rotate between government agencies and jobs with special interest.”
“I try to breath calmly when I read news reports that say, “Environmentalists seek revenge in campaign.”
“Is the link between poorly regulated pesticides and Parkinson’s relevant to you? Or is it relevant to you that Florida doesn’t have enough agency staff to keep up with development in coastal wetlands–even when there is evidence that sea-level rise will make the equity in those investments vanish like sand poured on a beach by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?”
“If that is too abstract, imagine yourself cradling a child whose skull has gone soft from leukemia or an infant deformed by toxics ingested by mom and dad, and imagine that the people you elect to federal office are in the process, right now, of tearing down our most important laws protecting your health, the diversity of species, the clean air and clean water you need to survive. They go from place to place with public meetings and catch-phrases like “cooperative conservation” to drum up public support for policies that are putting your health and environment at accelerating risk.”
“In Florida Legislature, they claim to support sustainable energy while moving forward to allow new, polluting coal-fired power plants with old technology.”
“Asked that way, not only am I going to vote for the political candidate who fully funds research to find problems before they explode in our faces, I’m going to vote out of office every politician who allowed my drinking -water supply to be contaminated or my springs, rivers and aquifers to be ruined.”
“ Imagine, for a moment, that what you see on the impaired surface of our waters is a perfect reflection of our government. And vote accordingly. Above all else, do vote.”