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Release Date: 01/23/1997
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064 Deb Garrett, DEP, (207) 287-7830

Boston - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection today announced the terms of a precedent-setting program for the control of dioxin in waste water discharges from Lincoln Pulp & Paper Company of Lincoln Maine. The dioxin limits in the Lincoln permit are the most stringent ever required of a paper mill by EPA anywhere in the country. Lincoln, an integrated bleached kraft paper mill making recycled products from waste sawdust, has agreed to the terms of federal and state waste water discharge permits that will require the company to achieve, the following:

    • a non-detect (10 parts per quadrillion [ppq]) dioxin limit at the bleach plant, the most stringent limit ever issued in the country. (The company's current permit has no dioxin limit or requirements.) This is the first permit ever issued that requires the elimination of detectable levels of dioxin at the bleach plant;
    • a reopener provision which allows the permit to be modified to include any more stringent national technology-based dioxin controls which may become effective during the life of the permit;
    • no increases in dioxin, even if the plant expands production;
    • compliance within one year (the law allows up to 3 years);
    • an 80% Total Suspended (TSS) removal limit to assure efficient treatment plant removal of dioxin;
    • an extensive biological monitoring program in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service;
    • a reopener provision which allows for the permit to be modified if future dioxin concentrations in fish warrant further action.
"This permit imposes the most stringent terms for dioxin ever imposed anywhere in the country. It sets a high standard for other mills and substantially advances our efforts to achieve Governor King's goal of lifting dioxin related fish consumption advisories and ultimately eliminating the discharge of dioxin,"said EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars. "Lincoln deserves a great deal of credit for its willingness to set a precedent for other bleach plant kraft mills in Maine and elsewhere. With this permit, Lincoln has agreed to meet upcoming national requirements well in advance of when others will have to comply."

The Maine DEP noted that the dioxin control requirements of this permit reflect a very significant corporate response to the Governor's dioxin initiative. "Lincoln has been making voluntary efforts to reduce dioxin levels as compared with the late 1980's," said DEP Commissioner Edward Sullivan. "These past efforts have been very positive. But agreeing to an enforceable standard of non-detect at the bleach plant even before federal rules are issued shows real leadership. This exemplifies the kind of progress envisioned by Governor King in his dioxin initiative."

To meet the requirements of this permit, Lincoln will continue and augment its existing pollution prevention strategies to address the formation of dioxin at its source -- the bleaching process -- and prior to any additional dilution, rather than rely solely on waste treatment facilities to remove dioxin already formed in the bleaching process. Even after Lincoln has achieved the required non-detectable levels of dioxin in the bleach plant effluent, however, this effluent will still undergo treatment in Lincoln's waste treatment plant resulting in additional removal if any dioxin is present. It is estimated that a well-operated waste treatment plant such as Lincoln's eliminates as much as 50% of any remaining dioxin discharged from the bleach plant. When the facility is in compliance with its new limit, if there is any dioxin discharged, it would have to be less than 1/20th of an eye drop per year.

In addition to agreeing to these federal and state waste discharge permit limits for dioxin, Lincoln has also committed to work with the Governor's office, EPA, DEP, the Penobscot Indian Nation, environmental groups and others to continue efforts to eliminate dioxin as part of a long term cooperative effort. Lincoln has been an active participant in the Governor's task force that was formed to help achieve the Governor's dioxin initiative announced last spring. Among other things, this group is examining how to reduce dioxin levels so that Maine's fish consumption advisories for dioxin can be lifted by the year 2000, and to achieve fish tissue sampling results that are the same above and below Maine's kraft mills.

In addition to these cooperative efforts, Lincoln has made a significant financial commitment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist in a study assessing the presence of dioxins in the food chain of bald eagles nesting on the Penobscot River. Lincoln has committed to the state and to EPA that it will meet and share information with the Penobscot Indian Nation on environmental matters.