In Benjamin Fordham's "Reincarnating the Pulp Mill" story (Jan. 31), his statement, "According to a 1989 Surfrider Foundation lawsuit, the Samoa mill and a second pulp mill ... used to dump a combined 40 million gallons of untreated wastewater into the ocean every day," fails to accurately convey the importance of this history.
The 40 million gallons of wastewater in question contained excessive concentrations of biological oxygen demand and suspended solids, had a pH value outside of the permit limits, and contained dioxins and furans, extremely toxic chemicals created by the use of chlorine in the bleaching process used to turn brown pulp into white. Surfers in the area of the discharge suffered of skin rashes and nausea.
As chairperson of the Humboldt Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, I want to point out that the settlement won by Surfrider and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was one of the largest penalties ever leveled under the Clean Water Act at the time. Money from the settlement went toward implementation and maintenance of an emergency telephone at the North Jetty, initial improvement of the Samoa Dunes National Recreation Area and the creation of the Humboldt Area Recreation Enhancement and Water Quality Fund, managed by the Humboldt Area Foundation and still providing grant funds today.
The lawsuit resulted in permanent improvement to our coastal waters and air, a phone used to save lives and numerous enhanced recreational opportunities on and around Humboldt Bay. It was kind of a big deal -- definitely bigger than your writer noted.
Jennifer Savage, Manila