March 16, 2011- An Arkansas paper mill owned by Koch Industries pumps out massive amounts of pollution in violation of the Clean Water Act, according an enforcement complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Ouachita Riverkeeper. The outflow from the plant fouls not only local water bodies but crosses the Louisiana border, staining a designated Natural and Scenic River.
The Georgia-Pacific mill in Crossett, Arkansas, is owned by Koch Industries, which is run by the Koch brothers–conservative activists who bankroll the Tea Party and other advocacy against government regulation. Many of their main targets have been environmental rules. Their plant has created horrendous conditions, including –
- Discharging 45 million gallons per day of paper-mill waste, including ammonia and chloride, and metals such as zinc, copper, and mercury. This toxic stew combines with the town of Crossett’s sewage in Coffee Creek, the stream below the plant;
- Coffee Creek is covered with foam, scum and slime [see attached photos]. Besides the obvious impact on fish, a review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found effluent from the plant likely comes into contact with muskrat, beaver, turtles, ducks, turkey, deer as well as “other large mammals”; and
- From Coffee Creek, the effluent travels through Mossy Lake and to the Ouachita River just above the Louisiana state line. The discharge causes obnoxious color and nauseous odor conditions in the River (where it is a designated Natural and Scenic River).
Koch Industries has persuaded the State of Arkansas to issue the Georgia-Pacific mill a permit that in essence removes water quality standards for the creek, on the self-fulfilling grounds that it can never be restored to a biologically viable stream. Since the Coffee Creek pollution discharge permit contains few limits, it is almost impossible to violate–but Koch Industries has violated it nonetheless, the groups contend in their complaint.
“The Clean Water Act does not allow our streams to be turned into industrial sewers,” stated PEER Field Director Barry Sulkin, the former Chief of Enforcement and Compliance for the Tennessee Division of Water Pollution Control. “No wonder the Kochs dislike strict federal regulation. They have covered Coffee Creek with so much foam it should be called Cappuccino Creek.”