Sierra Pacific Lumber Pays $13 Million for Air Pollution

SACRAMENTO, California, August 31, 2007 (ENS) - In one of the California Air Resources Board's largest-ever penalty cases, the lumber company Sierra Pacific Industries, has paid $13 million to settle allegations of air quality violations at four of the company's Sierra foothills sites.

The California Air Resources Board, ARB, in cooperation with the California Attorney General and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, jointly investigated the alleged violations against Sierra Pacific, and then filed a civil complaint in 2004.

The complaint alleged failure to comply with air pollution control regulations at some Sierra Pacific sawmills and wood-fired boilers located in Lincoln, Quincy, Loyalton and Susanville.

"The cumulative effects of numerous small, scattered air violations can compromise air quality just as much as larger, more visible violations," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols, announcing the settlement earlier this month. "This settlement should send a clear message to companies throughout the state that the environmental cops are on the beat."

Among the alleged air quality violations in the civil complaint were:

Sierra Pacific has since taken steps to address the problems, including a $17 million investment in its Lincoln cogeneration plant to replace a turbine and boiler.

The settlement includes $8.5 million for public agency costs, fees and penalties, and $4.5 million for programs to benefit air quality, including facility improvements not otherwise required and extensive compliance auditing, monitoring and oversight.

As part of the settlement, Nichols said, Sierra Pacific will ensure that all alleged conditions will not occur in the future.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.