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Two Pollution Control Technologies Developed, But Not Used, In Glynn County

 Scientists are attracted to Glynn County for our toxic soils and polluted air.  Two technologies were developed and demonstrated here, but our community is not receiving the benefit.

Toxaphene Destruction Demonstrated at Hercules Plant 

   Resource Technologies Environmental (RTE) was hired by Hercules in 1997 to develop a low cost on site remedial process capable of eliminating toxaphene and the chemical's inherent threat to human heath and the environment.   Key to the bio-remediation technology developed was adding a Gene Expression Factor (GEF).  GEF is a soil amendment, which helps repair the existing bacteria in the soil, and allows them to metabolize pesticides into salt, carbon dioxide, and water.

   Although a process was successfully developed and tested within the Hercules Brunswick Plant Site, Hercules declined to proceed with a large-scale remediation effort reportedly due to cost considerations.  In California, where the State has mandated a higher degree of cleanup, toxaphene has been eliminated in a single treatment, and costs about 90% less than conventional cleanup options. The 14-acre cleanup effort was the first large-scale demonstration of the biotechnology that has its developmental roots in previous work at the Hercules Brunswick Plant Site.  The process took about 8 weeks to remove toxaphene from the soil, and the land now meets residential development standards.

   The Hercules Plant site in Brunswick remains a serious ongoing environmental problem for the people of Brunswick. There is evidence that low dose, long term exposure to toxaphene disrupts endocrine (hormone system) production and it is suspected that toxaphene also impairs the performance of genes that support the human immune response.

   Capping, solidifying or any other process that falls short of complete elimination of toxaphene represents inadequate protection of human health and the environment. The best demonstrated available technology is one that completely eliminates toxaphene. The fact that this can now be done at a fraction of the cost of conventional remediation (including capping and solidification used at the Hercules 009 Landfill Superfund Site), yet is unutilized by Hercules, suggests that considerations other than human health and the environment are at issue. 


Air Pollution to Profits Demonstrated at Georgia-Pacific Pulp Mill


   The process of turning the Brunswick Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Mill’s pollution into profits won the 2002 EPA Clean Air Award.  Unfortunately, the process is not being used to reduce toxic chemicals,  greenhouse and acid rain gases released from the Pulp Mill.


The project that led to the prestigious EPA Clean Air Technology Award was developed through a partnership with Georgia-Pacific and Lehigh University Department of Chemical Engineering.  Using a catalytic process, methanol and foul smelling sulfur compounds, called mercaptans, are converted into formaldehyde.  The process also significantly minimizes emissions of two harmful by-products of traditional pollution control methods - carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and sulfur dioxide, an ingredient in acid rain.

   The formaldehyde produced is used to produce resins in particleboard, molding compound, and has many other uses.  Overall, the process has been estimated to produce a net profit of 1.5 million dollars for a pulp mill the size of the Georgia-Pacific in Brunswick. 


Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Mill


 There would be an investment to build the catalytic process to treat the air pollution from the pulp mill.  Return on investment has been estimated to take between 2 and 4 years. 

   Why the Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Mill does not want to implement a process that would make them money, give the citizens of Brunswick cleaner air, and reduce their emissions of greenhouse and acid rain forming gasses has not received a good answer.  The answer might be in the way pulp mills talk about their pollution, which is how they compare to other pulp mills. A pulp mill that releases much less pollution would put pressure industry-wide to reduce their toxic, greenhouse, and acid rain forming emissions. Or it could be that the pulp mill wants to maximize profit from reducing pollution by selling “pollution credits” to another industry that is exceeding their allowed releases.  Regardless of the reason the pulp mill does not want to implement their award winning pollution reducing technology, they have the ability to make our community cleaner, healthier, and more attractive to new industry and are not taking the steps to do so.


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