Kimberly-Clark Settlement Funds Will Clean Everett Air
EVERETT, Washington, March 13, 2008 (ENS) - A settlement between the Washington state Department of Ecology and the Kimberly-Clark pulp mill in Everett will fund $125,000 in projects to reduce wood smoke and diesel vehicle pollution in the city.

The agreement is part of a $165,000 package to settle a $235,000 penalty Ecology issued over smoke emissions from a months-long fire in 2007 at the company's wood fuel storage pile. In addition to funding the local clean air programs, Kimberly-Clark will pay $40,000 of the settlement amount to the Department of Ecology.

"This settlement will result in direct, long-term air quality improvements that can be implemented right away in neighborhoods affected by the fire," said Carol Kraege, supervisor of the agency's Industrial Section, which oversees the state's major pulp mills.

"The projects will clean up sources of fine airborne particles, the main pollutant in the smoke from the pile fire," she said.

Kimberly-Clark will pay $125,000 to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, which will extend two existing pollution-reduction programs.

The agency will spend $20,000 to expand a wood-stove stove replacement program to Everett.

The remaining $105,000 will enhance the Clean Air Agency's Diesel Solutions program, which retrofits heavy-duty diesel vehicles with pollution-reduction equipment. Funds can be used for transit coaches and other Everett city vehicles, as well waste-haul trucks that operate under city contracts.

The company will make all payments within 30 days.

"I want to thank Ecology and the Clean Air Agency for collaborating with us to settle this issue in a manner that will not only benefit residents of the immediate area, but the overall Everett community as well," said Chris Isenberg, Everett mill manager.

"I know that this unusual situation was a trying time for local residents," Isenberg said. "We have a new management plan in place to preclude this type of event from happening in the future and once again commit to being a good corporate citizen."

Smoke and odors from the fuel pile fire prompted citizen complaints to Ecology on 15 days, between September 27 and November 15, 2007. The company promptly cooperated with Ecology to end the burning, but the persistent fire took months to extinguish.

The company which operates a pulp and tissue mill on Everett's Port Gardiner waterfront stores wood material known as "hogged fuel" at industrial property across town, along the Snohomish River, for one of the mill's power generators. Mechanical problems closed the generator between June 21 and September 21, 2007. During this time the pile reached an unusually large size.

The interior of large hogged fuel stockpiles can reach high temperatures from self-generated heat. To prevent the pile from getting hot enough to start burning, earthmoving equipment shifts the material around to prevent hot spots from forming. During the boiler shutdown, the hogged fuel pile size became too large to keep it sufficiently turned over. The fire is believed to have ignited sometime in July.

Wood stoves and diesel vehicles account for 55 and 17 percent, respectively, of fine airborne particle emissions in Snohomish County. The tiny particles, each less than one-fiftieth the width of a human hair, can damage lung tissue over time.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.