Jun 19: 1100 tell Georgia-Pacific to close the pit!

COLUMBUS -- "Eleven hundred residents of Greater Columbus have joined Ohio Citizen Action’s good neighbor campaign with Georgia-Pacific by displaying yard signs that read:  “Georgia Pacific: Close the Pit.”  The signs refer to a football field-sized pit where Georgia-Pacific dumps toxic wastewater from its Watkins Road formaldehyde plant... Just like the air pollution that comes from Georgia-Pacific’s antiquated wastewater dump, the yard signs don’t have boundaries.  Residents of Worthington, Clintonville, Victorian Village, Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Westerville, Reynoldsburg, Powell, Southfield, Bexley, Whitehall, Gahanna, Lewis Center, Dublin, German Village, Pickerington, and Canal Winchester put up the signs," Leontien Kennedy, Ohio Citizen Action.

Jun 8: Wells OK, but waste pond gets attention

close the pit

COLUMBUS -- "Residents across the county have joined a campaign to close an industrial waste pond at a South Side plant. Ohio Citizen Action estimates it has planted 870 yard signs that read 'Georgia Pacific. CLOSE THE PIT' at homes on the South Side and in communities including Dublin, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Westerville and Upper Arlington.'Pollution doesn't have boundaries,' said Leontien Kennedy of Ohio Citizen Action," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.

Jun 5: Toxic waste water pit should be closed

Georgia-Pacific resin plant on the south side of Columbus

COLUMBUS -- "That generation which has not yet even been conceived cannot obviously speak for itself, but, the Iroquois recognize that the actions taken today will affect the future out to at least seven generations.  I think there is a correlation between the intensity and concentration of the action (or lack thereof) and the seventh generational affect.  Many other business leaders in the country are still maintaining a profit while making this consideration.  Please consider that all of your actions as the Plant Manager of Georgia Pacific have this affect for you and your future generations," Tom Strasburg, Ohio Citizen Action member.

May 14: Mr. David Mason, Jr. Please clean up your act!

miya's drawing

COLUMBUS -- People in the Columbus area want Georgia-Pacific to become a good neighbor. As of today, they have written 8,235 personal letters and planted 362 yard signs that say ‘Georgia-Pacific: close the pit.’ The signs refer to their outdated method of wastewater treatment, Leontein Kennedy, Ohio Citizen Action.

yard sign map
Each landmark represents one yard sign.
May 4: Yard signs surround Georgia-Pacific

COLUMBUS -- We began with a goal to post 1100 yard signs in the Columbus area to pressure Georgia-Pacific to become a good neighbor. Pollution does not have boundaries so the yard signs do not either. We have 775 signs left. The yard signs say ‘Georgia-Pacific: close the pit’ which refers to their outdated method of wastewater treatment. If you are interested, please email me and we will bring you a sign!, Leontein Kennedy, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 27: Ohio Citizen Action at North Market next Sunday

Zach DePompei, Virginia Fugman and Jason Pitak.

COLUMBUS -- On Sunday, May 6, Ohio Citizen Action will table at the North Market at 59 Spruce street in Columbus from noon until 5pm.  We will give out information and yard signs that say, "Georgia Pacific: Close the Pit" for interested people.  Please join us in our Follow the Air Pollution campaign, meet our staff and pick up information and a yard sign, Leontein Kennedy, Ohio Citizen Action.

Apr 23: Follow the science
Careful monitoring could ease concerns about Georgia-Pacific waste pond

COLUMBUS -- "The sensitive nature of regulating industrial businesses located near homes dictates that valid science must be the arbiter of what is acceptable. In the case of the Georgia Pacific plant on the South Side, a bit more science might reassure neighbors that the company's 2-million-gallon wastewater pit isn't a threat to air or water quality. Concerns grew in 2005, when consultants appointed by a Franklin County Common Pleas judge flagged the pond as a potential source of air pollution," editorial, Columbus Dispatch.

Apr 8: Georgia-Pacific plant: South Siders demanding pond cleanup

jakki byrdJakki Byrd and her South Side neighbors want Georgia Pacific to remove its waste pond at the plant on Watkins Road.
COLUMBUS -- "Georgia Pacific calls it a harmless 'bio-pond.' Neighbors call it a hazardous 'pit.' Either way, the 2-million-gallon pool of industrial wastewater behind the South Side resin plant is the latest divide between the company and those who live near it. Backed by the advocacy group Ohio Citizen Action, the plant's neighbors have demanded that Georgia Pacific get rid of the lagoon and help connect 13 area homes to city water. 'We want them to say, 'We want to be a good neighbor,' said Leontien Kennedy of Ohio Citizen Action. The group is handing out yard signs to residents that read 'Georgia Pacific. CLOSE THE PIT' . . . Kennedy said the pond pollutes the air, contaminates groundwater and should be replaced with a water-treatment plant," Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.

Apr 5: Georgia-Pacific "walk and talk"

Shirleen Anderson, Mike Jones, Forest Kilb, Leontien Kennedy, Jessica Sines, Laurie Perin, Ali Moody, Melanie O’Brien, Stephen Gabor, Mark Biszantz, Jessica Kramer, Liz Ilg, Kendra Ulrich, Jarett Gardner, Zach DePompei, Chad Iacovetta and Marcus Perkins.

COLUMBUS -- Ohio Citizen Action led a group of community members and volunteers on a neighborhood "walk and talk" on March 31. The group handed out a newsletter and talked with residents about the toxic pit Georgia-Pacific uses for its waste water. Many neighbors put up yard signs reading: "Georgia-Pacific Close The Pit." 100 yard signs were placed in the neighborhood around Georgia-Pacific and Citizen Action will be getting more to distribute over the coming weeks.

Mar 15: Letter to David Mason, Plant manager at Georgia-Pacific

COLUMBUS -- "Sixteen homes across from the Georgia-Pacific on the Southside are dependent on wells for their drinking water. During testing in 1992, these wells were found to contain levels of phenol, a chemical released by Georgia-Pacific. We went door to door in the neighborhood and got signatures of all the current neighbors on a petition to get the City of Columbus to extend the city water pipeline to include them," Leontien Kennedy, Ohio Citizen Action. 25 Kb doc.

Mar 12: Profiling an Ohio Army National Guard Citizen- Soldier

Dave Mason
Lead operator Gary Hickman (left) and David Mason, plant manager, inspect the machines at the Georgia-Pacific chemical plant.
COLUMBUS -- "It seems that David Mason, Jr. has trained most of his life to lead Georgia-Pacific's Columbus, OH, chemical plant. With a degree in chemistry and 21 years experience with the Army National Guard, environments that require attention to detail with a focus on safety are familiar territory for Mason... 'We've made a lot of changes at our plant,' said Mason, explaining that the plant focused on the areas of efficiency and environmental compliance as part of its reconstruction following a 1997 explosion. 'We had to win back community trust by demonstrating that we were willing to be environmental stewards,'" The Guard Experience.

Mar 7: Georgia-Pacific should help build a safer environment

COLUMBUS -- "As a citizen of Ohio, it is my hope and belief that as a company executive and manager of the Georgia Pacific plant, you must be aware of the above issues. Per the brochure published by Ohio Citizen Action, the release of phenol from the company's plant is contaminating the water wells of at least 16 houses on Watkins Road. It is my request that you look into connecting these homes to the city’s drinking water supplies before a bigger health related incident happens. I hope you would think positively of the suggestions and act in a manner that helps build a safer environment and makes for a stronger, healthier community around your plant," Sajeev N. Singh, Westerville resident.

Mar 5: Georgia-Pacific:
Connect homes on Watkins road to Columbus water

Mary Hawkins

COLUMBUS -- This is Mary Hawkins in front of her house.  She is one of the neighbors on Watkins road across from Georgia-Pacific.  Mary has lived on Watkins road for almost 60 years.  She wants Georgia-Pacific to cover the costs to connect her to Columbus city water. Sixteen homes on Watkins Road are dependent on backyard wells for their water supply. The Columbus Health Department tested the wells in 1984, and the Ohio EPA tested them again in 1990 and 1992. Every time the wells were tested, they were contaminated with phenol, a chemical released by Georgia-Pacific.

Feb 19: A letter from the neighborhood

clipCOLUMBUS -- "As a business owner myself, I understand the difficulty in balancing all the requirements of safe and equitable plant operations that protect employees as well as the neighboring community while continuing to make a business profitable. Sometimes, investing in community good will is less costly (and more environmentally sound) than investing in attorney's fees," Zachary Ruttl, Columbus resident.

Feb 16: Georgia-Pacific neighbor writes plant manager

COLUMBUS -- "Terry Tucker, the cousin of a very close friend of mine, was killed in the 1997 explosion at your plant.  That was a very traumatic event that made big headlines in the papers.  Terry’s death and G-P’s safety and environmental issues were huge, exciting headlines for a short time, but soon after many forgot about it.  However, since then, Georgia-Pacific has continued to negatively affect the lives of many other individuals by contaminating the environment around your plant.  Terry lost his life in one day.  How many other people are slowly and quietly becoming ill over time, and dying, because of your plant?," Mary Ellen Magee, Gahanna resident.

Jan 16, 2007: Columbus watershed group writes to Georgia-Pacific

COLUMBUS -- "Since Georgia Pacific’s installation on Watkins Road, a lot of advances and discoveries have been made regarding water and wastewater treatment.  There is no debate about the fact that your current on-site wastewater lagoon is outdated.  We do not claim to be experts but just stay abreast of developments in that particular arena.  A good look at the Water & Wastewater Newsletter alone, presents many alternatives, some more, others less viable for your particular case, all of them however, a significant improvement over your current obsolete waste pit, another accident just waiting to happen," Dr. Susann Moeller, Watershed Coordinator, Friends of Big Walnut Creek.

Dec 18, 2006: Introducing Columbus program director Leontien Kennedy

walk & talk
From left to right: Mike Jones, Sara Woodson, Jason Danklefsen, Shirleen Anderson, Leo Kennedy, Lisa, Randy Crider, Jarett Gardner, and Nick Swinehart.

COLUMBUS -- Leontien Kennedy, Columbus area associate program director, organized a group of community members to go door-to-door on December 2, 2006. The group spoke with residents about contaminated drinking water in the Southside neighborhood. Sixteen homes on Watkins road are dependent on backyard wells for their drinking water. Every time the wells have been tested, they were found to be contaminated with phenol, a chemical released by Georgia-Pacific," Ohio Citizen Action.

Dec 7: Fourth Graders of Tyler Run Elementary write to Georgia-Pacific

Drawing by Elise

POWELL -- "I am a fourth grader at Tyler Run. In class I've been learning about how humans affect the environment both positively and negatively. I've recently become aware of the problem of toxic waste. I've learned that you have a toxic pit behind your factory. You are overloading it with toxic waste. The chemicals can cause horrible diseases. This contamination affects people, land and water,'" Fourth Graders, Tyler Run Elementary.

More drawings

Nov 24:  Some want answers from EPA
Water-contamination fears still unresolved

COLUMBUS -- "For 14 years, people who live in a row of South Side houses have worried that a chemical the nearby Georgia-Pacific plant uses is contaminating their water. But they’re going to have to wait even longer to find out whether it is...Ohio EPA officials said that although they are considering retesting residents’ water, there is a problem. 'There is no (phenol) standard to act on,'" Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch.

Georgia-Pacific timeline

Nov 10:  Georgia-Pacific neighbor wants the plant to clean up

COLUMBUS -- "Thanks to Ohio Citizen Action I am once more made aware of the inustices of yet another major polluter to our world. The Columbus Georgia-Pacific manufacturing plant, of which you are plant manager, is causing hazardous air pollution to our community. We do not need any more cancer, neurological, respiratory or reproductive problems than we already have in our area," letter to plant manager David Mason Jr. from a neighbor of the plant.

Oct 12:  Ohio EPA found phenol from Georgia-Pacific in 1992 well tests

LocationMay 1984 Nov 1990 Mar 1992
2020 Watkins   .05 ppm
2056 Watkins .036 ppm.009 ppm.05 ppm
2149 Watkins  .009 ppm.22 ppm
2173 Watkins   .16 ppm
2179 Watkins   .09 ppm
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, maximum phenol level is 150 ug/l = .15 ppm.

COLUMBUS -- In tests taken in 1992, Ohio EPA found phenol in the wells of residents on Watkins Road. In two locations, the results were above Safe Drinking Water Act safety standards. Source: Ohio EPA Administrative Order on Georgia Pacific, December 22, 1994.

Sep 28:  Georgia-Pacific must stop jeopardizing the community

COLUMBUS -- "Having been safety director for many years, it is alarming to find that the chemicals being released into the community are toxic chemicals, some know carcinogens and terotogens such as formaldehyde, methanol and phenol, and in such large quantities," letter to plant manager David Mason Jr., Lorena Holiday, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 24:  Neighbors show their opposition to Georgia-Pacific air permit

COLUMBUS -- "The public hearing held Tuesday on Georgia Pacific's air permit was well attended. Neighbors held signs and spoke out against the permit that would allow Georgia Pacific to increase its emissions of formaldehyde, a toxic chemical, into the neighborhood," Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 21:  Public hearing on Georgia-Pacific air permit tomorrow

COLUMBUS -- Please attend tomorrow's public meeting. Ohio EPA wants to issue a new air permit to Georgia-Pacific that would allow increased emissions of formaldehyde into the air. This is an opportunity for neighbors to comment. For more information, contact Simona Vaclavikova (614) 487-7880, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 17:  Ohio EPA information session on Georgia-Pacific air permit

COLUMBUS -- "Neighbors held signs reading "NO GP, NO FESOP (Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit) in opposition to Georgia-Pacific's air permit as they questioned the Ohio EPA's decision allowing Georgia Pacific to release more toxic emissions into the neighborhood. The Ohio EPA did not provide adequate answers and did not bring information that the neighbors asked for. Residents left the meeting frustrated," Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 15:  Georgia-Pacific neighbors oppose permit

COLUMBUS -- "Join your neighbors today for a public meeting on the Southside of Columbus. Ohio EPA wants to issue a new air permit to Georgia-Pacific. Tonight, Ohio EPA and Georgia Pacific will get an earful from the neighbors who overwhelmingly oppose the permit," Simona Vaclavikova, Ohio Citizen Action.

Aug 11:  Ohio EPA to hold two meetings regarding draft air permit for Georgia-Pacific

COLUMBUS -- "Ohio EPA will hold a public information session on Tuesday, August 15, 2006, to answer questions on a draft air operating permit for Georgia-Pacific Resins, 1975 Watkins Road, Columbus, and a public hearing on Tuesday, August 22, 2006, to accept comments on the draft permit," press release, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Aug 9:  Ohio Citizen Action says Georgia-Pacific must close its toxic pit

COLUMBUS -- The Georgia-Pacific Resins Facility on the Southside of Columbus uses a pit (‘bio-pond’) behind the plant to treat wastewater generated at the facility. The wastewater is highly toxic and has to be pre-treated before it can be released to the city’s sewer system. Large quantities of hazardous chemicals are discharged into the pit including formaldehyde, methanol, and phenol. The community believes the toxic pit represents an unregulated and uncontrolled source of toxic air emissions.

Apr 5:  Statement by former Liaisons
Southside Community Hearing

COLUMBUS -- "Georgia-Pacific has stated its intent to be a good neighbor. It has made important improvements at its resin plant. These are good steps; however, the company has a long way to go before the plant can be considered safe and environmentally responsible. The plant's location in close proximity to hundreds of families mandates exceptional vigilance," Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. and William M. Auberle, P.E.. 44Kb doc.

Dec 2, 2005:  Citizens appeal Georgia-Pacific permit

COLUMBUS -- "We appeal this direct final action by the Director because it precludes community comments on this permit. While we would readily agree with any action that would result in less emissions emanating from this facility, we vehemently oppose any that would create the opposite, however incremental," Mike Jones and Teresa Mills, letter to Environmental Review Appeals Commission.
Sep 10, 1997:  7 injured in Ohio chemical plant explosion
2 hospitalized, 1 employee still missing

COLUMBUS -- "Seven people were injured after an explosion heavily damaged a Georgia-Pacific chemical plant Wednesday and sent up a cloud of irritating fumes that forced the evacuation of nearby areas. The explosion was felt up to seven miles away," CNN.

Leontien Kennedy
Ohio Citizen Action
(614) 487-7880

10,640 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions urging Georgia-Pacific to be a good neighbor, as of June 25, 2007.