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Weyerhaeuser Company

Letter from Gary Risner to Stanley Meiburg


May 29, 1996


Mr. Gary Risner
Area Environmental Manager
Weyerhaeuser Corporation
115 Perimeter Center Place, Suite 950
Atlanta, GA 30346

Dear Mr. Risner:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to transmit the enclosed comments on the Weyerhaeuser Flint River XL Project. These comments were assembled in response to Weyerhaeuser's comments at meetings in late April between EPA and the company, and reflect comments from consolidated EPA Regional and Headquarters reviewers. Three areas of concern are addressed in the enclosure. They are: 1) technical discussion of environmental performance desired by the Agency; 2) a discussion of the nature of the Final Project Agreement (FPA), including both legal mechanisms and termination provisions (off-ramp); and 3) stakeholder involvement in implementation.

This letter and the enclosure focus on the primary issues that need to be resolved to proceed with the XL project. In cases where substantial gaps exist, the Agency has proposed a process to move forward.

We are looking forward to meeting with Weyerhaeuser and the State of Georgia to refine the technical and legal elements of the FPA. An initial meeting has been scheduled in Atlanta for June 13, 1996.

Thank you for your patience in working through this process with us, and your consideration of the enclosed comments. We look forward to discussing them with you. If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Glenn, (404) 347-3555, X6319.


A. Stanley Meiburg
Deputy Regional Administrator


cc: Sara Kendall, Weyerhaeuser
Russell Stevenson, Weyerhaeuser
David Word, GA EPD
Bob Donaghue, GA EPD



Environmental Performance

The purpose of the XL pilot is to demonstrate ways that increased flexibility can produce superior environmental performance. EPA is prepared to grant Weyerhaeuser flexibility to achieve superior environmental performance through minimum impact manufacturing, especially where Weyerhaeuser believes that existing and anticipated regulations impede cost-effective progress toward minimum impact. We believe that while Weyerhaeuser's MIM Phase IV has the potential to produce real progress; however, EPA views MIM Phase V and VI as the most attractive features of Weyerhaeuser's XL project. As part of this project, the Agency would like to see a commitment from Weyerhaeuser to achieve environmental results beyond those that would be achieved through Phase IV alone.

EPA believes that a three-part package can deliver superior environmental results in a flexible, open and cost-effective manner. The package contains: 1) an unequivocally safe environmental floor; 2) regulatory flexibility that encourages experimentation and learning; and 3) a set of enforceable limits and commitments for the future that will foster technological innovation toward minimum impact manufacturing over the long term.

To establish a safe floor that guarantees environmental progress, EPA would like Weyerhaeuser to agree to enforceable commitments that meet or exceed all state and federal substantive environmental standards.

To allow flexibility for experimentation, EPA will provide directly or encourage the state to provide flexibility in the following areas:

To foster technological innovation toward MIM, EPA would like the Company to commit to conducting feasibility studies to explore loop-closing technologies across the various media.

Nature of Final Project Agreement

EPA believes that Final Project Agreements are documents that set forth the clear intent of the parties to the Agreements, but do not create legal obligations. Changes in legally enforceable rights and obligations would be effectuated through rulemaking and permit revisions, as appropriate. The FPA would describe in detail the rules and/or permit changes that are anticipated. EPA considers the rulemaking process and permit revision process to be the mechanisms that will provide that certainty and legal enforceability the Company and EPA seek in connection with this issue. Moreover, EPA considers use of the site specific rulemaking process and permit revision process, as mechanisms to implement terms of an FPA, to be completely consistent with previous guidance issued by the Agency in connection with Project XL (Principles for Development of Final XL Project Agreements, December 1, 1995, EPA Memorandum mentions the possibility that in a given project, enforceable commitments will be set forth in documents other than the Final Project Agreement.)

The Agency envisions the Flint River FPA as a 15 year agreement that may be accompanied by other, legally enforceable documents. It is the Agency's experience to date that some FPAs may establish all the terms of a projects; in other instances, a FPA may establish some terms but also set out a plan of action to pursue other mechanisms that will establish the remainder of the terms.

With respect to the Flint River FPA, the Agency expects that in conjunction with the company and the state, we will need to convene a series of meetings to resolve important, outstanding legal matters including the necessity to revise other affected documents or permits (i.e., State Implementation Plan, PSD permit). As soon as the parties reach agreement on the terms in the FPA, EPA will write a site specific rule. EPA has set a target of completing such rules within 2 1/2 months of beginning the rulemaking process. The draft FPA and EPA's comments on the draft FPA suggest a variety of commitments. Only those commitments which are incorporated (or referenced) into a legally enforceable document such as a permit or a site specific rule, will be binding. Other commitments will rest only on good faith.

EPA's position on the nature of the FPA (and the use of the rulemaking process and the permit revision process as mechanisms to implement the terms of the FPA) is also consistent with the concept of reviewing the project's implementation periodically.

The signatories should develop a FPA review schedule and define the terms under which the FPA is reopened, reviewed, modified, reaffirmed or terminated. As a start, EPA expects re-openers to occur bi-annually to re-examine air and water commitments in light of the company's progress and considering findings of the feasibility studies. It is expected that at the time of review, a number of options would be available including: 1) revision of existing commitments; 2) establishment of new commitments; 3) establishment of new or revised interim milestones toward achieving commitments; 4) off-ramping if commitments are not achievable. The off-ramp option will be designed to allow the Company to come into compliance with all appropriate regulatory requirements. The Agency expects to further develop the basic elements of and process for invoking an "off ramp" option before signing a FPA.

The issues of dispute resolution and force majeure were discussed at the April 4, 1996, meeting with the Company. EPA understands that the Company will be providing additional language concerning these issues (see the Company's April 23, 1996 Response to Comments). EPA remains ready to review and evaluate any such language, in connection with further discussions with the Company. In particular, with respect to issues related to dispute resolution, EPA remains ready to consider approaches that reflect:

- the nature of the Final Project Agreement itself and
- the possibility that certain issues may arise that may not necessarily be resolved through informal negotiations.

EPA, the company and the state will develop termination and or extension procedures and processes.

Stakeholder Involvement in FPA Implementation

EPA expects local stakeholders to play an ongoing role throughout implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Flint River FPA. It is expected that the facility will avail stakeholders of pertinent information to enable informed and meaningful participation throughout the life of the FPA. Informed local stakeholder involvement is, we believe, essential to the success and credibility of all Project XL pilots, and we will do what is needed to achieve meaningful collaboration between "Project XL applicants and the affected community," (Fred Hansen letter, November 1, 1995).

EPA commends Weyerhaeuser for committing to an "information open-door policy." EPA encourages Flint River to work with its stakeholder group to develop a workable implementation plan that through openness, inclusivity, and collaboration accountability is guaranteed.

EPA further recognizes Weyerhaeuser for holding an information exchange with individuals from national nongovernmental organizations on May 12, 1996. The Agency supports ongoing efforts by the Company to meet with, inform and engage diverse stakeholders who are in the business of environmental protection. Through these efforts we can gain a broad base of support to further test innovative environmental management strategies, that may look different than the old way of doing business, but will deliver superior results.

MAY 22, 1996

The company has proposed to meet MACT through equivalent emission reductions of HAPs in-lieu-of meeting specified MACT requirements. This flexibility is sought because the company believes it can achieve those emissions levels more cost effectively. The company would then use the savings they estimate to be as high as $20 million to invest in projects which further the minimum impact manufacturing (MIM) vision for environmental management.


EPA believes that this facility has the potential to achieve realistic environmental benefits far superior than what would be accomplished through normal compliance with the applicable MACT standard. Therefore, EPA is agreeable to the flexibility sought by Weyerhaeuser Flint River as it relates to the proposed MACT regulation, given the following general conditions:


Stretch Goals and Interim Milestones for Weyerhaeuser's Project XL

Bleach Plant Flow today:
5 m3 by 2011
today: to be negotiated (could be management or performance based) 1998 and every two years thereafter
Conventional Pollutants 1998: establish minimum impact stretch goal today: BAT or Tier 1 for all parameters by end of Phase IV; every two years
Dioxin today: limit of ND at bleach plant; no limit at end of pipe; voluntary reductions in sludge (agree to join voluntary sludge stewardship program) to be negotiated; if a change in bleaching process occurs so that there is no potential to generate dioxin, limits and review could further change
HAPs 1998 today: MACT equipment control and trading plan (plan submittal date negotiable) what about P2? every two years
Criteria Pollutants today: facility-wide, power boiler caps apply immediately; reduce caps by 10% by end of Phase IV 90% caps become enforceable at end of Phase IV if no violation of cap, no review
Solid Waste 1998 today: 10% reduction by end of Phase IV; others in 1998 every two years
Energy Conservation/ Steam use 1998 today: 10% reduction by end of Phase IV; others in 1998 every two years
Forest Practices 1998 1998 every two years

The following timing is assumed:
-- MIM Phase IV ends 12/1997; MIM Phase V begins in 12/1997
-- The first phase of the feasibility study concludes in 1998, thus the reference to 1998 in the table


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