Revised IP permit proposed

Published 12:24 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

FRANKLIN—A revised water-discharge permit under consideration by state regulators would rule out papermaking at International Paper Co.’s shuttered Franklin mill.

If approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the permit would allow a future generic industrial facility to continue discharging wastewater into the Blackwater River.

“It’s just a re-up on their permit, mostly for their stormwater and the ponds,” Riverkeeper Jeff Turner said Thursday. “The stormwater runoff has to go somewhere.”

“This is pretty much what IP has to do right now,” Turner added. “If some (new industry) comes in, it would have to exclude any type of papermaking because this new permit wouldn’t allow that. But that could change. All DEQ would have to do is just rewrite the permit.”

DEQ said all of the internal outfalls testing for bleach have been taken off-line since paper production at the IP mill in Franklin ceased in April. One external outfall at a reservoir called C-Pond would remain operational because processed wastewater is still being stored there. The water will be discharged during future discharge seasons.

IP is currently permitted to discharge 125 million gallons per day into the Blackwater River below C-Pond from November to March.

“When I talked to (IP) the other day, they said they would do like they have always done, release on a normal schedule,” Turner said. He added that future discharges “would depend on what kind of rain we get. If the (ponds) fill up like from what we just had, IP would need to turn it loose eventually.”

DEQ will receive public comments on the matter until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30. Comments can be e-mailed, faxed or mailed to the department’s Tidewater Regional Office, located at 5636 Southern Blvd., Virginia Beach, Va., 23462. The public is allowed to review permit documents at the office by appointment.