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Innovative Agreement Cuts Pollution and Saves New Hampshire Company $825,000

Release Date: 03/02/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced today an innovative agreement to cut air pollution and save $825,000 at a New Hampshire paper mill. Under the agreement, Groveton Paper Board Inc. of Groveton, NH, will install alternative pollution controls at its paper mill that will reduce air pollution four times more than controls normally required by federal law.

The agreement is the first in New England developed under an expedited process for federal/state environmental innovation laid out in the national EPA/State Agreement to Pursue Regulatory Innovation. In the EPA/State Agreement signed in 1998, EPA committed to responding to state proposals for innovative projects within 90 days. Formal EPA approval of the Groveton Paper agreement came this week, within the 90 day response deadline.

Under federal rules effective in April 2002, Groveton would have been required to install a $1 million system to capture and incinerate emissions of airborne methanol. Working cooperatively with DES, the company realized that because of the unique characteristics of the plant, it could achieve significantly more pollution reduction by treating process water at the plant to remove methanol. This alternative treatment will result in four times the methanol emissions reductions -- a reduction of an estimated 42 tons per year versus 11 tons from incineration -- and additionally reduce 20 tons per year of other hazardous air pollutants. At the same time, the process water treatment technology costs $175,000, a savings of $825,000 from the incineration requirement.

"This agreement for the Groveton plant is a great win-win situation. The environment will be cleaner, and the company will benefit," said Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "This agreement also shows that EPA can move quickly and cooperatively when state agencies have smart ideas for improving environmental protection."

"This is a remarkable success that saves Groveton Paper Board an incredible 80 percent of its initially-expected costs and demonstrates once again that the interests of environmental protection and economic growth can go hand-in-hand," said NH DES Commissioner Robert Varney. "This project illustrates how cost-effective pollution prevention can be, an approach that we hope will be emulated by other companies throughout the region."

"This agreement is the result of the collaborative efforts of Groveton Paper Board, the DES and EPA," said Thomas Pitts, resident manager at Groveton Paper Board. "The DES worked shoulder to shoulder with us to find an innovative and cost-effective approach to reduce our emissions. They went beyond simply enforcing rules, they helped us solve the problem. We are also pleased with the quick response of the EPA. We can now begin to implement our plan and reduce emissions sooner."

To embody the agreement, the state of New Hampshire will issue an alternative air permit to Groveton Paper Board, specifying a timeline for completion of the alternative controls. The permit is expected to be finalized this summer.