Our Big Polluterby Larry McLaud
Lewiston Tribune, January 14, 2005
EPA data shows that the Potlatch mill releases tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the river every year and 40 million gallons of nearly 100-degree wastewater per day. Potlatch Corp. ranked fifth on the top water polluters list with 287,287 pounds of waste released in its water discharges.
Pollution from the Potlatch mill in Lewiston is one of the reasons that the river does not meet water quality standards. This degraded water quality adversely impacts salmon and steelhead. The Potlatch Corp. pulp and paper mill at Lewiston was also among the state and regional leaders in the release of dioxins, a toxic chemical believed to cause health problems even in minuscule amounts. According to a fact sheet from the EPA, dioxin has been associated with cancer, suppression of the immune system and negative effects on reproduction and development.
Potlatch Corp. led all other Idaho companies in the amount of air pollutants released with 1.01 million pounds per year. More information on industrial polluters is available on the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory Web site at www.epa.gov/tri/. The Clearwater Valley has the highest rates of lung and kidney cancer in the state. Potlatch sold some mills in Minnesota last year for over $450 million. They could have invested $50 million in pollution control to cool and clean water discharge and clean the air from the stacks, but instead they gave shareholders a one-time dividend of $2.50 per share. Clearwater Valley citizens continue to pay the consequences of Potlatch's pollution.
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