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St Helens Mill Endangers Citizens, Sends 23 to Hospital

I live in St Helens, right near the Boise Cascade mill. I've never really felt good about this neighbor; all summer long yellow-brown veils of smog hung over the city, trailed from the stacks at boise. And just before it rains, the whole town stinks of au de paper mill. I've called DEQ to complain, but never heard back, and I've called city hall, but gotten no help. Today, I learned from the local paper out here that there was a chemical accident nearly 2 weeks ago, that sent 23 people to the hospital. Despite living within spitting distance of the mill, I was never notified of any danger until today, reading it in the paper, 13 days later.
On September 8th, according to the Columbia County News/Adviser, "two chemicals were mistakenly mixed together, creating a poisonous gas, at the Boise Cascade Paper Mill." The accident happened at around 11:15 am, when a tanker truck full of sodium hypochlorite was accidentally unloaded into the wrong tank. A tank already filled with sodium bisulfate. The two gases combined to form sulfur dioxide, a poisonous gas that can cause respiratory and cardio-vascular problems, and that also causes acid rain.

I found this very disconcerting, to say the least. I never even thought about the possibility of this kind of accident happening here. So after reading the article, I did a little research. I found out that both of the chemicals in the dangerous combination are, in and of themselves, also very dangerous. Sodium hypochlorite, for example, becomes carcinogenic when it comes into contact with organic materials, such as dirt or soot. It can also form deadly chlorine gas if mixed with acid. Sodium bisulfate, on the other hand, can cause asphyxiation. I began to wonder what other surprises the mill might have in store.

Because I live here, and have a family here, I called city hall to find out what they knew. What is the danger from this? I was told by the person who answered the telephone that she did not know, that I should call Boise Cascade. But wait, I said. Doesn't the city have any kind of plan in case of an accident of this nature? What about citizen oversight? Is no one watching to make sure the mill operates in a safe manner? No, the woman said, there is no plan. And no, the city has no oversight, and knows nothing about this matter. She said I would have to call the mill. As an afterthought, she added that I could try the county, maybe they know something.

I tried the offices of Columbia county next. I spoke with Vicky Hargouth there. She was more helpful than city hall had been, but even she conceded that there really are no local plans to deal with an emergency of this nature, and that there is no civilian oversight. At least, she said, not at a local level. She told me that the mill had reported the accident to the Oregon Emergency Response system, and that there had been no requirement for public notification because "the gas dissipated immediately." (After sending 23 people to the hospital, I guess.) She also believed that the mill was regulated by some board, but she was not sure which. She, too, indicated that I should call Boise Cascade. She did, however, at least have the good grace to laugh when I told her I would not necessarily have a lot of trust in what the PR folks at the mill had to say about it.

Given that there were people in Bhopal, India, who complained about the Union Carbide plant for some time, and no one listened to them, I was a bit concerned that local officials seem so disinterested in the potential for a chemical accident in this community. I was also surprised that city and county officials were so blindingly willing to trust their lives and mine to the corporate citizenship of Boise Cascade. Again, I'm sure there were local officials in Bhopal who felt the same way, right before the infamous accident that cost thousands of neighboring lives. Since then, there's really no excuse for that kind of witlessness.

I finally gave in to the advice of those who work with my elected officials, and called the unelected force that really runs this town. I called Boise Cascade. I was put through, naturally, to the public relations folks. I spoke with Karen Punch, communications manager. She's very good at her job, I must say. Sweet, and smooth, and cheerful. She did her very best to be helpful, if not to me, at least to the firm. She was very courteous and professional, and is a credit to her profession and her masters. If I were not a skeptical soul, if I knew nothing about the pathological nature of the corporate beast, if i did not understand that the corporation always puts its own interests above any others and that every organ of the machine is designed to lie, cover up, and obfuscate in its defense, well I might have been reassured.

Yes, Ms. Punch acknowledged, there are a lot of toxic chemicals there at Boise Cascade. But they're really, really careful with them. Not to worry. They have lots of containment equipment, the poisons are "right in the middle" of the 60 acre site, and there is "very little danger" of any of it ever "going off site." She did concede that they do have a number of what she called "black stack" incidents, in which oil is gushed into the air through the stacks out there. I guess that's the black stuff I see pouring out into the air now and then. Oh, and yes, there is a lot of odor sometimes. But not to worry, none of this is dangerous. Or not very dangerous, anyway. Regarding the sulfur dioxide accident, she assured me that none of it ever went off site, because "it's heavier than air. It immediately settled to the ground." And that's why, presumably, no one bothered to notify the people who live around the mill. No one bothered to tell me, or the kids at the grade school, or the people at the high school, or the folks at the daycare down the road. No one alerted any of the kids playing at McCormick Park, just across the street from the mill. Because they figured it was no big deal.

I can't say I'm very assured, though. For one thing, the county official had told me that the gas "dissipated immediately." So did it dissipate? Or did it settle to the ground? Because those are two very different things. So it sounds like at least one of the people who is supposed to be able to tell me what happened is either uninformed, or lying. For another thing, since sulfur dioxide is the chief cause of acid rain, it seems logical to assume that some of it can, presumably, get into the atmosphere. That is, it can get into the air we breathe. And finally, even if it "merely" settled to the ground, the mill is located right near me, and right on the banks of the Columbia river. Any toxin settling to the ground there is going to be seeping into the same earth where I grow food for my family, and into the water that is the life's blood of this entire region. So I am not comforted by this.

I asked Karen whether there was any local citizen oversight of the facility, because I would like to get involved. No, she said. There is none. ("Speaking of Bhopal," she said ironically, "the mill takes part in PSM, or Process Safety Management, which was instituted after Bhopal." From what I could gather, PSM is a set of guidelines determining how toxic chemicals are delivered, handled, stored, and used at the facility. I guess that means there's nothing to worry about any longer, they have a plan.) Still, city officials are not updated about safety precautions at the mill, county emergency planners are not kept abreast of developments such as the recent incident, and local citizens have no say in what happens right here in our community, to our air, our water, our earth, our ecosystem, our lungs.

However, Karen assured me that the mill is overseen at the federal level, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Rather than being reassured, I found it scary that my safety in this matter is apparently in the same hands that managed so poorly in New Orleans recently. Why only at the federal level? Why no oversight at the local level? If the EPA and DEQ operate anything like FEMA, the town could wash away in a cloud of sulfur dioxide before anyone even bothered to tap out a memo. We are, after all, a working class town.

Karen could offer no further reassurance, except to say that they do have very stringent standards that they must meet. She also told me that, well, there is something called CEPA (short for Columbia Emergency Planning Association) that meets every month and talks about how to respond to an emergency such as this. CEPA is, she said, made up of people from Boise, people from Dyno Nobel corp (they make explosives for the military and mining companies), people from Armstrong Industries (they, like Boise, seem to be a superfund site, from what I can gather from the EPA's very confusing website) and other local manufacturers. Wow. Would anyone feel safe in those hands? She did say that the CEPA meetings are open to the public, and that the next one (should anyone be interested in attending) will be at the mill on October 4th at 10am. The address at the mill is 1300 Kaster Rd, St Helens, OR.

Out of curiosity, I asked Karen where the owners of the mill live. She hemmed a bit about that, saying that many of the managers and all of the workers live right here in St Helens, or maybe in Portland. But, well, the headquarters are in Boise, Idaho. But again, she insisted, "most of us are from right here. So this is not just some big, faceless entity."

Actually, though, I did a little more research after I talked to her. I discovered that it is, in fact, some big, faceless entity. After a sale last year, Boise Cascade is now owned by MDP, or Madison Dearborne Partners, LLC. "Based in Chicago," says the MDP website, they are "one of the largest and most experienced private equity investment firms in the United States." Worth $billions, this corporate megalith "invests in management buyout and other private equity transactions across a broad spectrum of industries." Further, "MDP's objective is to invest in companies...to achieve significant long-term appreciation in equity value." In other words, it's a giant, soul-less, money-making gargantuan. Or, in still other words, it's a big, faceless, entity. Boise Cascade just happens to be one of its "aquisitions." The people of this community are not even a blip on the screen back at headquarters. So long as the numbers keep rolling along black, no one at MDP gives a rat's ass if sulfur dioxide streams out of the mill, if people are put at risk, or if the local yokels have any kind of contingency plan whatsoever to deal with the possibility of disaster.

I also discovered that Boise Cascade has a long history of environmental issues, followed by PR whitewashes. As noted above, the EPA website has a rather confusing facility profile of Boise, in which a category entitled "Archived superfund report" has a big, black, "Yes" in that box. Further, the US Department of Justice took action against Boise on at least one occasion, demanding that they reduce air pollution by 95%. According to the Siskiyou Regional Education Project  http://forests.org/archive/america/rapboise.htm, aside from raping public forests and dumping toxins into the air, Boise also has a long history of endangering workers, including an incident in which 5 workers in one plant contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a rare, sometimes fatal form of blood cancer. Also according to the Siskiyou Regional Education Project In 1991, and again in 1992, Boise Cascade fought to weaken Oregon state dioxin regulations, requesting that minimum allowable levels be raised from 0.013ppq (the level recommended by EPA) to 2.3 ppq. This corporation does not care about my health or my community.

The one thing that Boise spokesperson Karen Punch said that i did find somewhat comforting was when she reflected, for a moment, on why she believes that the mill is a good neighbor. It's because, she sighed, management knows that "If the community decides they don't want you here, they can get you out. If you're not a good neighbor..."

Let it be so. I want them out.

One more thing. 21.Sep.2005 19:15

Scared in St Helens

I just want to add that, in doing research today about this topic, I learned that the Santosh wildlife preserve, one of my favorite places in the world, is a SUPERFUND site. A fucking superfund site! It's a former landfill, full of industrial wastes. One of its biggest customers was, you guessed it, Boise Cascade. The waste site was inexplicably situated, with the full approval of the DEQ, in the middle of a delicate wetland. (See how much we can trust the federal government to watch out for us??) Although the DEQ was monitoring it all along, the landfill was built without lining, in the middle of a wetland, along the Columbia river. Toxins and contaminants including (but not limited to) acetone, chloriform, carbon disulfide, 2-butanone, p-isopropyltoluene, toluene, lead, mercury, napthalene, and up to 15 polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans have leached out and contaminated soil, streams, and ground water. According to the EPA website, "Groundwater at Boise Cascade's South 80 Landfill, where the clarifier solids were disposed after Santosh Landfill closed, is contaminated with As, Cr, Cu, Zn, phenol, tetrachlorophenol, and pentachlorophenol, although Boise Cascade contends that the chlorinated phenol contamination may have originated at an adjoining creosote plant (Port of St. Helens Creosote site; ECSI #959)." So the contamination continues.

Shit. Bald eagles hunt in this wetland. Endangered fish swim in the nearby (contaminated) streams. And we all live here. The thing that makes me the most angry about this is this statement on the EPA website:

"Direct human exposure to site contaminants may be very limited. The former landfill is currently part of a larger private game hunting reserve which is well-posted against trespassers. Hunters are not expected to spend a significant portion of their lifetime on the landfill itself: the landfill is covered with a heavy growth of blackberry briars."

In fact, there are no postings at all against trespassers. There is a friendly sign out front, welcoming people to the "wildlife preserve." There are hiking trails all over the park. Yes, park. There are picnic tables, and a gazebo with tibetan flags. I have gone birdwatching there, have gone on picnics there, and gone wading in the water there. The EPA, remember, are the people who are supposed to be "regulating" Boise Cascade and all the other polluters. They and the DEQ are the only citizen oversight we have. And they can't even get this right.

The long and short of all this is that I made blackberry jam for my family with berries I picked, without knowing it, from a superfund site. I made PB&J sandwiches for my child with berries grown in an unmarked toxic wasteland. I ate toast contaminated with God knows what, from food that was supposed to be healthy and comforting. I still have some of that jam on my shelf. It was supposed to keep me through the winter, a taste of summertime later, when the snow is on the ground and I need to remember the summer. It was one thing I do, preserving my own food from the wild, to learn to survive in this world even after peak oil.

Damn, I want them out.

Don't be a NIMBY! 21.Sep.2005 21:32

red suspenders

Paper is made by boiling wood chips (generally a by-product of lumber production) in drano. If you want the paper to be white, theres a little clorox involved, or peroxide.. They do use some sulfur, and yes, the sulfur dioxide smells a little. Yes there is the posibility of accident, and releasing some nasty gas- but it's an acute problem for the folks right there, not a long term pollution problem. As far as "toxic waste" goes a paper mill is pretty damn clean. My guess is the solvent contamination in your park is from something else- maybe where they used to treat wood with chemicals so it doesnt rot. I wouldn't worry about eating the berries, (but might not want to drink well water in the area)

I have worked (electrical) in various parts of two paper mills in the area. We make the best paper in the world right here, and there are a lot of good family wage jobs involved in doing so. I know West Linn paper has been here well over 100 years. I imagine the mill in St. Helens has been there longer than you. Would you rather we ship our wood chips and jobs off to China or South America?

If you give a shit about "the environment" go live somewhere you don't need to use a car.

red suspenders is good 22.Sep.2005 02:37

kristin lee

the worry of the mill- is quite outlandish to me- red suspenders is right- most of the chemicals will biodegrade quite quickly and there are no heavy metals included- certain mixtures can be deadly but usually that is from direct exposure- these chemicals lose "velocity" when exposed to oxygen- somehting as simple as in your own home-these chemicals can be found- bleach and hydrogen peroxide can be deadly if breathed in a moment of mixture- burning your lungs in a makeshift mustard gas- but shortly after it changes composition- the people you should truly worry about are the ones directly exposed- talk to OSHA and see what they have to say- i belive if there truly was a situation they would be the first to know-

there's nothing wrong with NIMBY 22.Sep.2005 03:04


It's only SEBY that is a problem. If the EPA is reporting the levels of toxic contamination that it is you can bet the problems are far worse. For those who don't have a problem with these chemicals (red suspenders and kristin less), how about we relocate the plants to your houses; how would that be?

What?! 22.Sep.2005 06:56


Wow. So I guess, since red suspenders says there's nothing to worry about, and the mill says there's nothing to worry about, well there must not be anything to worry about. Except, oh, wait. Here's the DEQ page for Santosh, which was apparently used mostly by Boise Cascade in the 1970s:  http://www.deq.state.or.us/wmc/ecsi/ecsidetail.asp?seqnbr=1383

Sounds pretty scary to me. Would you want this in your back yard? Me neither.

Black Stack 22.Sep.2005 07:38

Had enough too

I'm going to try to post a some pictures, but I haven't done this before so not sure if I will be able to. One is the sign in front of Boise mill, and the other is the very end of a "black stack" episode that happened last week, and the last, if it works, is the mill in Longview. I, too, am fed up with this, and have been taking pictures when they "accidentally" discharge shit into the air. I can't understand the dumbass "nimby" comment. Did that person just go to some workshop or something and learn that word? Because there's a reason people don't want uncaring corporations spewing poison into their backyards. If you can't understand it, maybe you need to move out here and subject your lungs, family, and health to this.

I'm appalled by red suspender's attempt to dismiss this. 22.Sep.2005 08:49

Also from st helens

Red suspenders said, "Paper is made by boiling wood chips...in drano. If you want the paper to be white, theres a little clorox involved, or peroxide.. They do use some sulfur, and yes, the sulfur dioxide smells a little."

Actually, it's chlorine dioxide that is used to bleach the paper, and there are a great many poisonous chemicals used in the papermaking process. (Try eating Drano, by the way, if you think that's no big deal.) And yes, they use a LOT of sulfur, and by the way, it smells a LOT. Not a little, a LOT. There are also toxic gases given off by the mill that don't necessarily stink, but that are very dangerous to human health and the environment.

Red suspenders also said, "Yes there is the posibility of accident, and releasing some nasty gas- but it's an acute problem for the folks right there, not a long term pollution problem." Is this supposed to be comforting? First, you tell me not to be a "nimby," which is biz-jerk jargon for "not in my backyard," then you tell me that, "hey, it's only in YOUR backyard and not mine, so why should I worry?" Fuck that attitude.

This is just the kind of environmental classism that condemned the people of Bhopal, and that threatens the people of the Nigerian delta -- this idea that it's just "those people" who have to live with the pollution, so it's no big deal. It would be a big deal if it was in your back yard.

Working class neighborhoods are way disproportionately poisoned with this shit, and people like red suspenders help them do it by dismissing our concerns. Can anyone hear me? This is real, dammit.

I do not want to engage in a personal dialogue with red suspenders, but merely to point out the short sightedness of this kind of attitiude. Dyno Nobel is also out here, and several other nasty polluters. Not to mention Trojan. They sit along the Columbia river. This river is the heart of our ecosystem. Yours and mine. If you poison this river, or if you foolishly allow others to do it because they're not doing it "in your backyard," then you will be poisoning yourself, your neighbors, your family, and the heart of the food chain here. The salmon are running right now. Whether you eat salmon or not (I don't), they are part of the life force of this part of Cascadia. For thousands upon thousands of years, they have flushed into the Columbia at this time of the year to take part in the dance of life. The bald eagles and the bears and the otter and the raccoons and the sea lions all come to the river as well, to feast with and on the salmon. And so do many of the humans. This is a complex web of life, that is being threatened by places like Boise, and by people like red suspenders who just don't get it. You may be upstream in Portland, but you're down wind. And you're still part of the same ecosystem, like it or not.

And kristin lee, who also dismissed this as if it were nothing, because it's my family and not hers who is put at risk, asked about OSHA. For the record, Boise has racked up several thousand OSHA violations. That's THOUSAND. Tell the 23 people who went to the hospital that this is nothing. And tell the people who have died from cancer clusters in and around paper mills that this is nothing.

Man, I'm just appalled. Truly appalled.

Some of the chemicals we're talking about here 22.Sep.2005 09:06

google search

I just looked up some of the chemicals that Boise Cascade dumped into the ground in Santosh and the newer landfill. Here's what I found in one quick search. I'll start with Naphthalene.

Naphthalene: A toxic carcinogenic hydrocarbon derived from coal tar or petroleum and used as a solvent.

The EPA says:
Naphthalene is used in the production of phthalic anhydride; it is also used in mothballs. Acute (short-term) exposure of humans to naphthalene by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact is associated with hemolytic anemia, damage to the liver, and neurological damage. Cataracts have also been reported in workers acutely exposed to naphthalene by inhalation and ingestion. Chronic (long-term) exposure of workers and rodents to naphthalene has been reported to cause cataracts and damage to the retina. Hemolytic anemia has been reported in infants born to mothers who "sniffed" and ingested naphthalene (as mothballs) during pregnancy. Available data are inadequate to establish a causal relationship between exposure to naphthalene and cancer in humans. EPA has classified naphthalene as a Group C, possible human carcinogen.

Other websites say:
Naphthalene (CAS #91-20-3) is a white solid with a strong smell; is also called MOTHBALLS, moth flakes, white tar, and tar camphor. Naphthalene is a natural component of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal; it is also formed when natural PRODUCTS SUCH AS WOOD OR TOBACCO ARE BURNED. The principal use for naphthalene is as an intermediate in the production of phthalic anhydride, which is used as an intermediate in the production of phthalate plasticizers, resins, phthaleins, dyes, pharmaceuticals, insect repellents, and other materials; other products made from naphthalene are moth repellents, in the form of mothballs or crystals, and toilet and diaper pail deodorant blocks. Naphthalene is also used for making leather tanning agents, and the insecticide carbaryl.

Health effects

Exposure to a large amount of naphthalene can cause red blood cells to be damaged or destroyed, a condition called hemolytic anemia, which leads to fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness, and a pale appearance. Naphthalene is more dangerous to African-Americans and people of Mediterranean descent, because these populations have a higher incidence of problems with the enzyme which helps produce red blood cells.

Exposure to naphthalene can cause systemic reactions, including nausea, headache, diaphoresis, hematuria, fever, anemia, liver damage, vomiting, convulsions, and coma. Exposure can also cause eye irritation, confusion, excitement, malaise, abdominal pain, irritation to the bladder, profuse sweating, jaundice, hematopoietic, hemoglobinuria, renal shutdown, and dermatitis. Poisoning may occur by ingestion of large doses, skin and/or eye contact, inhalation, or skin absorption.

Members of the general population most likely to have high levels of exposure to naphthalene are users of naphthalene-containing moth repellents (including infants exposed to blankets or clothing stored in naphthalene-containing mothballs), smokers, and those in proximity to smokers. Workers in naphthalene-producing or naphthalene-using industries could be subject to heightened exposures, and individuals living or working near hazardous waste sites at which naphthalene has been detected could also be exposed to higher naphthalene concentrations if they come into contact with contaminated media.

[Figures that no one cares about it, and it seems to disproportionately effect people of color.]

Now, for pentachlorophenol 22.Sep.2005 09:20

google search

This is another nasty one, from what I can find out. If this is seeping into the soil and groundwater around the Boise dump sites, then this is alarming.

According to the Scorecard Pollution Information site, this one is "Ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to ecosystems." It's a carcinogen, a "cardiovascular or blood toxicant," "developmental toxicant," "gastrointestinal or liver toxicant," "kidney toxicant," "neurotoxicant," "resiratory toxicant," "reproductive toxicant," "endocrine toxicant," "immunotoxicant," and "endocrine toxicant." Wow, I guess that about covers it.

NSC.org says, "Pentachlorophenol (C.A.S. 87-86-5) is one of the most heavily used pesticides in the U.S. It is used primarily as an industrial wood preservative for utility poles, cross arms, fence posts, and similar structures. It is registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an insecticide (termicide), fungicide, herbicides, molluscide, algicide, disinfectant, and as an ingredient in antifouling paint.

Pentachlorophenol is also used in sawmills, and as an ingredient in consumer wood-preserving formulations, herbicides, and pesticides. It is used in consumer items such as boats, furniture, and log homes. Non-wood uses account for no more than 2 percent of current consumption.

Pentachlorophenol does not occur naturally in the environment. It is produced by the chlorination of phenol. In pure form, it exists as colorless crystals and has a very sharp characteristic odor when hot. Impure pentachlorophenol, which is the form most likely to be found at hazardous waste sites, is a dark gray to brown dust, beads, or flakes."

SHIT! Read this, also from NSC.org:

"Health effects

Short-term exposure to pentachlorophenol can lead to poisoning that is rapidly fatal. Even small amounts passing through the skin can cause sweating, high fever, breathing trouble, chest and abdomen pain, and death. Brief exposure can damage the liver, kidney, skin, blood, lungs, nervous system, and gastro-intestinal tract. Contact can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.

Long-term exposure to pentachlorophenol may cause mutations in living cells, and may damage a developing fetus. Repeated exposure may damage the liver, kidneys, blood, and nervous system; it can also cause bronchitis and skin rash. Chronic poisoning may cause weight loss, weakness, and excessive sweating.

Populations with potentially high exposure to pentachlorophenol are people involved in wood preservation and lumber mills, carpenters, loading dock workers, and pesticide applicators. Residents near pentachlorophenol manufacturing plants, cooling towers, and wastewater treatment sludge disposal sites may also be exposed to the chemical at higher levels than the general public. Some families living in homes treated with pentachlorophenol have been reported to have symptoms of chronic exposure."

Crap! Who knew! Red Suspenders, I think you're on your own on this one.

If you want to really scare yourself, read this one:  http://consumerlawpage.com/article/lumber.shtml . It's about a lawsuit revolving around workers in the lumber industry exposed to pentachlorophenol who died. (And by the way, they worked for the notorious Simpson Lumber Company iin Humbolt county.)

It calls the byproducts from the manufacture of this chemical " without any doubt the most toxic chemicals ever known to mankind." Scary stuff. No, believe it or not, I don't want this in MY backyard either. Or in the middle of a wetland, on the banks of the Columbia river.

paper mills and other corporate poluters 22.Sep.2005 09:45

karl roenfanz ( rosey ) k_rosey48 @hotmail.com

the epa and the rest of the government alphabet soup the first question asked is do we our bosses have any stocks in that company? the polution travels east, unless a wind reversal. a lot of polutants do settle to the low ground, so if you live downhill? i noticed noone mentioned the recombination problem, if two cancel out when the combine with a third, katy bar the door.

Katy Bar the Door 22.Sep.2005 10:33


Karl says, "i noticed noone mentioned the recombination problem, if two cancel out when the combine with a third, katy bar the door."

Yep. With pentachlorophenol, at least, the constituent parts are even deadlier than the chemical itself. It does, as kristin lee tried to say, break down quickly. ...into dioxin. Dioxin is so deadly that even 1 part in 1,000,000,000 is dangerous.

And the sodium hypochlorite can form chlorine gas, which they used to kill people with in gas chambers. But it was deemed to be "cruel and unusual punishment," so they don't use it there anymore. All it has to do is come into contact with acid, which is apparently at least one of the chemical constituents in the landfill.

Kristin lee mentions hydrogen peroxide and bleach being deadly, as if the fact that these chemicals are found in many people's homes makes them less serious. But thousands of people die each year from inadvertently mixing them while cleaning the house. (For those who don't know, NEVER mix household cleaners. Especially not bleach and anything. Even cleanser, which has been known to create a deadly combination.)

Red Suspenders says, "My guess is the solvent contamination in your park is from something else- maybe where they used to treat wood with chemicals so it doesnt rot." Could be; there is also a veneer mill in St Helens, just down the street from the paper mill. I believe it's owned by...Boise Cascade.

Boise Cascade Logs OLD GROWTH Trees! 22.Sep.2005 14:57

Consume Less

Not only does Boise Cascade pollute, it cuts down our ancient old growth forests, after it posted a "commitment" that they wouldn't. See  http://www.ran.org/ran_campaigns/old_growth/ for more info. They are going back on their word, and are cutting down old growth trees! Boise Cascade must be stopped and held accountable!! Get the word out, don't purchase any paper products from Boise Cascade, Boycutt Boise!!

Yes, Boycott Boise! 22.Sep.2005 16:33

from st helens

And if you like, call them to complain about this. The St Helens mill on Kaster rd can be reached by calling 503-397-2900. You can also call St Helens city hall at 503-397-6272 to urge them to do something to protect the people out here. They're pretty much in the pocket of the mill, like any poor, working class community with a big company boss in their midst. But it would be good to voice concern so they stop just assuming nobody minds.

Finally, you can reach Columbia County by calling 503-397-7210. They, too, should hear of people's concern in this matter. I called after reading this, and they seemed kind of oblivious to the whole issue. Friendly, but oblivious.

And if you do not live in Columbia County, look around your own neighborhood. See that big factory over there? What goes on in there? Do you know? Find out. (And please, because we all live in Cascadia, please call these places to lodge your complaint.)

read google search, dont just copy 22.Sep.2005 20:23

red suspenders

pentachlorophenol is a wood preservative. Treated wood you buy in home depo has a label that says "Wash hands before eating, using the bathroom, or smoking" Yes it's nasty stuff. I said I wouldn't want to drink from a well in that field (I'd still have no problem eating the berries)

I don't belive you will find any pentachlorophenol at your friendly neighborhood pulp mill.

Yes, drano and clorox are poisonus- Very poisonus, but in the acute manner of having your insides burned out. Sorry, ya cant disolve wood with dr. bronners pepermint soap.

Comparing a paper mill to a chemical plant making pesticides is insane. Comparing your offended nose to thousands of deaths in a poor country is the worst "classisim" I've ever heard of.

Paper mills and other local industries can be made cleaner and less stinky (if you had been around camas 25 years ago you'd never complain about st helens smells today) But just pointing at what you think is a "smokestack" and complaining, the best that happens is everyone ignores you, at worst you send hundreds of good jobs overseas.

Take the kids on a tour of the mill if you can, and use the oppurtunity to ask the folks working there about the materials they work with and hazards they face.

Do a little research on electronics manufacturing and some of the chemicals used there...

If you really want to help the earth (and it's inhabitants) spend your energy on the
automotive and the petroleum industries, and our government infested with evil republicans.

What is UP with the head in the ol arse hole? 22.Sep.2005 21:31


Look red suspenders, I realize you worked in a paper mill and all, and I realize you sappily sucked up everything they ever told you. But rise above your indoctrination.

First, I don't believe anyone said anything about their "offended nose" being the problem, even though paper mills smell disgusting and impact people's quality of life -- nothing to sniff at. The problem is deadly poisonous, carcinogenic, tetragenic, poisons. Being spewed out of the friendly neighborhood mill. If this place is a superfund site, you can bet it ain't all squeaky clean. Nothing you say is ever going to diminish the impact of that. And pointing out that shit you can buy in the store is also bad for you does, what? Does it make the poison go away? No? Then what the fuck? Why do you want to minimize this problem? If you're trying to be a good PR person for the industry, don't bother. You're way too transparent and not very convincing. Give it up.

Stop being a patronizing ass. It's clear that others in this thread have done a lot more research than you have, and that they're more concerned about the environment and each other's health and well being than you are. If you read any of the information about the chemicals listed in any of the posts above (I followed all the links and read it all), then you would realize that these are very, very dangerous toxins, and that you are just being an idiot.

no more excuses 22.Sep.2005 21:41


Red suspenders says, "Comparing a paper mill to a chemical plant making pesticides is insane."

Really? I don't think so. If you know anything about pentachlorophenol, then you would know that, aside from it's place in the mill's arsenal, this chemical is also used in the manufacture of pesticides. Because it's poison. Deadly poison.

It also breaks down into dioxin, which I think was mentioned above. Dioxin kills.

So it's, well, almost exactly relevant to discuss a chemical plant (union carbide) in the same breath (no pun intended) as Boise.

When you come right down to it, manufacturing plants are dangerous places that are not held accountable to the communities where they operate. Usually, the people who profit from them live far, far away from the places where they pollute and endanger the environment and the neighbors.

Here's something funny 23.Sep.2005 08:59

following up

I called the mill to find out what's up. I was told that there's nothing to worry about, no danger at all, everything's under control, no fear. I got a whole speech about how safe everything is, and how unlikely it is that anything could endanger anyone around the mill. Then, I was told that they don't really allow a lot of visitors anymore (like I guess they used to do), because of 9/11 and all. When I asked what that had to do with anything, I was told that well, you know, they have a lot of dangerous chemicals around and stuff, and terrorists might try to use them or something. !

Red suspenders tells it all 23.Sep.2005 09:12


Personally, I do not see what a logger type is doing on this site, unless s/he is working for the disinformation mill at Boise, which, with the moniker seems like a good possibility. These chemicals are fucking LETHAL.
NIMBY is just another way of saying "shut up asshole, your problem is local, and doesn't concern ME." Well, as well as most of the other REAL contributers to this site are concerned about your problems, my problems, and the earth's problems. The whole fuckin world is her backyard.

Now to the issues we should all be concerned about: does anyone (real people now, no corporate mouth pieces) here really believe that the toxic soup that Katrina whipped up down in the gulf is a local concern? Does anyone believe that if that kind of release occured here that it would not likewise effect the rest of the world?

The absolute truth is that the Columbia, and it's loverly mate, the Willamette, are huge superfund sites, because folks like Red jockstrap here continue to spout platitudes about how we should just suck it up, and allow corporate Amerika to keep fucking us, since we love their products. Homeland Security keeps getting larger and larger, not to protect us, mind you (did you see any protecting going on in the gulf?), but to protect the corporation. If they were working for us, there WOULD be a plan to deal with spills of this nature and to deal with major civil emergencies.

Keep trying, keep pointing fingers at the issues. Some of us are interested. Some of us will boycott, and some of us are thankful that someone is paying attention.