LVM's Environmental Action Blog

The purpose of this blog is to convey the importance that life choices and daily decisions have on the environment. I will, as a member of the kayaking community, effectively convey the importance and immediacy of environmental issues written in the paddling vernacular.

Monday, April 25, 2005

lvmenvironmental visits blueridge paper

Notice the brown colored cloud rising from the bottom of the river.
photo by mefford williams

One of the most notorious polluters in the southeast, this paper mill (formerly Champion, now Blue Ridge Paper) is the largest manufacturer of business envelopes in the world. Along with those envelopes the plant also produces the paper used for orange juice boxes: those ones with the round plastic spout which you can’t recycle.
The plant releases their effluent directly into the Pigeon River, upstream from the section in Tennessee which is commercially rafted and visited by many a whitewater kayaker.

A close up on the brown cloud. The plant has a couple of reasons for releasing from the bottom: one of them being that there is no visible releasing pipe for passers-by to see.

photo by mefford williams

The plant is huge relative to the small size of river which it empties into; so the standards for its effluent are much better/higher/sticter than other plants which operate on huge volume rivers like the Ohio and the Mississippi. But don’t let that confuse you, this plant pollutes the @%#* out of the Pigeon and has for many decades. Paddlers of my fathers generation spoke of eddies with three-foot-high piles of foam.

After all the plant’s remediation techniques: here’s the final product. Next stop the Pigeon river. This fragrant wastewater still contains many lignins and tanic acids from the trees.

photo by mefford williams
These resilient organic pollutants don’t break down easily in the river. They persist so long actually, that the effect of them is felt after the river crosses into Tennessee, making regulation for this plant a bureaucratic nightmare.

Much of the pollution results from having to bleach the pulp for making the white color we associate with business envelopes; so here’s your opportunity to help… Buy brown or recycled business envelopes. You can also buy your orange juice in other containers besides the paper ones.
Check out treecylce for recycled envelopes.


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