On Wednesday, May 2, 2007 the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) began 6 days of hearings to consider an appeal by NRCM and others of the DEP’s proposed wastewater discharge license for the Verso papermill in Jay, Maine, formerly owned by IP.
- More than three decades after former Maine Senator Edmund Muskie wrote the Clean Water Act, having grown up along the polluted Androscoggin in Rumford, this once-great river remains the most polluted major river in Maine and fails to meet minimum federal or state Clean Water Act standards.
- The Verso mill in Jay currently pours nearly 40 million gallons a day of polluted wastewater into the Androscoggin River and is by far the largest polluter on the river.
- People in communities along the Androscoggin deserve a clean, healthy river that is safe for swimming and where Maine’s finest game fish, such as trout and salmon, can thrive.
- A study shows that an investment in cleaner technology that is commonly used worldwide is feasible, affordable, and would lower operating and manufacturing costs for the Verso mill, enhancing its competitiveness, while cleaning up the river.
- Mills with low manufacturing costs are much more likely to survive over the long term, because when times get tough, companies close mills that have the highest manufacturing costs. The state should ensure that these investments are made, for the sake of our environment, our economy, and our quality of life.
- The levels of pollution allowed in the permit we are appealing significantly exceed the pollution that the mill currently pours into the Androscoggin River, so they will not clean up the river at all. Furthermore, many parts of this inadequate permit would not come into effect for ten years.
- BEP should put this issue to rest once and for all by taking action to clean up the Androscoggin River.
NRCM’s case included testimony from three experts:
- John Lichter: John is biology professor at Bowdoin College who will focus on the problems phosphorus pollution is causing in the Androscoggin River and Merrymeeting Bay and the need to limit phosphorus discharges from Verso.
- Deb French McCay: Deb is a Ph.D. aquatic ecologist with Applied Science Associates in Rhode Island. She submitted testimony on the flaws with DEP’s model that estimated “acceptable” pollution loads in the Androscoggin River (testimony that shows why the model overestimated the amount of pollution that should be allowed) and also estimated the amount of real pollution reductions necessary to clean up the river.
- Neil McCubbin: Neil is one of the world’s leading experts on pulp and paper mill environmental technology. He has provided testimony showing that Verso can dramatically reduce its pollution using proven technology that will make it more competitive.
Androscoggin River graphics – View visual exhibits submitted with NRCM’s testimony.