Georgia-Pacific: Clean up and reduce pollution

 

The Georgia-Pacific Resins Facility on the Southside of Columbus releases hazardous air pollution that can cause cancer, neurological, respiratory, and reproductive harm. The most dangerous chemicals are formaldehyde (a cancer-causing agent), methanol, and phenol. Exposure to these chemicals - even at low concentrations - for long periods of time can cause illness.

Georgia Pacific 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. The pit is large – 275 feet long and 125 feet wide – and represents an obsolete method of treating wastewater. Large quantities of hazardous chemicals are discharged into the pit including 1,000,000 pounds of formaldehyde, 470,000 pounds of methanol, and 350,000 pounds of phenol (2004 TRI). This is almost triple the amount of chemicals released into the pit in 2000. Georgia Pacific claims that these chemicals are broken down through biodegradation process, in which microscopic bugs consume the chemicals as a source of food.


The community believes the toxic pit represents an unregulated and uncontrolled source of toxic air emissions.



Community health

According to the Associated Press, the federal government’s health risk score from industrial air pollution (total of all air emissions from facilities combined) in this Southside neighborhood is 104.9 times the nationwide average. This neighborhood is among the worst 5 percent nationally for health risk from industrial air pollution.

History

The Columbus Georgia-Pacific manufacturing plant consists of two separate but related processes.


Georgia-Pacific after an explosion in 1997.
One process converts highly flammable methanol (wood alcohol) to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde vapors are toxic and flammable. Formaldehyde is stored on site to be used in the production of resin.

The resin process uses two reactors to react phenol and formaldehyde to produce resins, which are used in adhesive, coatings, and molding compounds.

Georgia-Pacific has had a series of environmental and health and safety problems, including spills and chemical releases. A major explosion in 1997 caused the death of a worker, numerous injuries, and degradation of neighbors’ health and property
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Please write Plant Manager David Mason Jr.

Here are some points for your letter:
  • Close the large toxic pit (bio-pond) and replace it with an up-to-date wastewater treatment facility.
  • Modernize the formaldehyde production line.
  • Reduce toxic air emissions from the plant.
David Mason Jr.
Plant Manager
1975 Watkins Road
Columbus, OH 43207