On Tuesday, The Florida Clean Water Network and three individuals sent a Notice of Intent to Sue (NOIS) to the Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC that the paper mill’s industrial waste to Rice Creek and then to the St Johns River is lacking proper authorization under the Clean Water Act.
“We think the previous corporate owner of the Palatka mill – Georgia-Pacific Corporation – was hoping to let the change in ownership and operational control of the mill slide by unnoticed. Why? Because for the last five years the mill has been benefiting from a permit that requires minimal pollution controls,” said Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean Water Network. “But the mill’s permit actually expired in 2007. The new owner, Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC – must, like all other businesses that want to discharge wastes into Florida waters — get a permit. Until they do, all discharges from the mill are illegal,” said Young.
The Notice states:
“Georgia-Pacific LLC f/k/a Georgia-Pacific Corporation never submitted a timely and sufficient application for renewal of NPDES Permit No. FL0002763. On February 5, 2007, “Georgia-Pacific Consumer Product Div LLC” submitted an application for renewal of NPDES Permit No. FL0002763. No business entity named “Georgia- Pacific Consumer Product Div LLC” existed on February 5, 2007 or thereafter. On May 8, 2007, “Georgia-Pacific Consumer Product Div LLC” submitted a revised application for renewal of NPDES Permit No. FL0002763. No business entity named “Georgia-Pacific Consumer Product Div LLC” existed on May 8, 2007 or thereafter.”
“You would think that a big corporation like Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC, would not make a blatant mistake like this,” said Karen Ahlers, a plaintiff on the Notice. “It is sad that private citizens cannot rely on FDEP and a huge corporation that heralds itself as a good neighbor to discover these kinds of errors. Sure makes me wonder why this happened,” said Ahlers.
As of August 6, 2007, neither Georgia-Pacific Corporation n/k/a Georgia-Pacific LLC nor Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LLC n/k/a Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC had a valid NPDES permit to discharge wastes from the Palatka Mill into Rice Creek. Accordingly, all discharges of waste by Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC f/k/a Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LLC into Rice Creek at the Palatka Mill after August 5, 2007 were unlawful under Clean Water Act.
“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has failed the St. Johns River yet again,” said plaintiff Neil Armingeon. “Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC, is the second largest source of nitrogen pollution in the lower St. Johns River, and they don’t have a discharge permit? It’s unbelievable,” he added.
A full copy of the notice and an attachment that outlines the last five years of violations can be found at Attorney David A. Ludder’s website: