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Weyerhaeuser Company

EPA Press Release


For Release: January 17, 1997
EPA Reaches Agreement on XL Project with Weyerhaeuser Co.
Luke C. Hester 202-260-1383

A Project XL agrement with Weyerhaeuser Co. has been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, corporation officials, Georgia state officials, and community leaders for the paper manufacturer's Flint River pulp mill in Oglethorpe, GA. The agreement is the first for a forest products facility under Project XL, the Clinton Administration's innovative effort to reinvent environment regulation by allowing more flexibility in exchange for greater protection of public health and the environment.

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner said, "This agreement with the Weyerhaeuser Co. is one more significant result of the Clinton Administration's efforts to build a new generation of environmental protection to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It proves that we can make our environmental regulatory system both affordable and more protective."

Browner added, "The Project XL agreement will enhance the pollution prevention program for the Flint River, a crucial economic and recreational benefit for Georgia citizens. As President Clinton has said, our philosophy of reinvention is simple: 'Protect people, not bureaucracy. Promote results, not rules. Get action, not rhetoric.'"

Project XL (for eXcellence and Leadership) is a national pilot program launched by President Clinton to test innovations for environmental protection in the 21st century. Companies selected to conduct pilot projects are given the flexibility to adopt alternative strategies to the current system of regulations, on the condition that they produce greater environmental results. Under the agreement, the company will implement changes in its facility to meet tough standards of superior environmental performance. Regulatory flexibility will be provided in exchange for the agreement which may be revised or terminated at any time during the 15-year agreement period.

Strong community involvement is an essential feature of Project XL. The Weyerhaeuser project was developed with substantial involvement of local citizens, including participation in three public meetings, and the agreement calls for continuing public review of the project.

The agreement calls for strong public health and environmental protections, and innovative approaches to pollution prevention while cutting red tape, increasing public information and involvement, and allowing Weyerhaeuser to achieve economic benefits and improved customer satisfaction. The agreement goals include: reduction in water use to approximately 10 million gallons a day (compared to the industry daily mill average of 25 million gallons), saving each day enough water to fill an Olympic-size pool; a 50-percent reduction in the wastewater from the bleach plant, which will reduce the amount of chlorine compounds and pollutants discharged into the river -- a critical community priority; enhancement of wildlife in 300,000 acres of Weyerhaeuser's forest lands through identification and safeguarding of unique habitats, planning landscapes with wildlife in mind, establishing wildlife corridors, and cooperating with government studies on how company forests can contribute to the conservation of threatened and endangered species; updating of the mill's environmental management system to conform to new international standards, called ISO 14001, which emphasize careful design and pollution prevention, thus minimizing end-of-pipeline cleanup or treatment.

Greater protection of the Flint River continues to be a major community priority and the final agreement meets this important objective. Comments were solicited from various stakeholders affected by the project, including those representing Macon County; the cities of Montezuma, Oglethorpe, Cordele and Americus; the Lake Blackshear Watershed Association; and the Macon local emergency planning commission. Public comments included an endorsement from the Georgia Congressional delegation. The project allows community leaders and other stakeholders access to data that permits citizens and governments the opportunity to monitor progress of the project. Community leaders and other stakeholders can request data and reports dealing with water and air discharges at any time so that local citizens and governments can monitor the progress of the XL project. Throughout the 15-year implementation period, semi-annual public reports will be issued on the Internet at www.epa.gov/Project XL and annual public meetings will be held by Weyerhaeuser.

Weyerhaeuse is one of North America's largest recyclers of office wastepaper, newspaper, and corrugated paper containers. The major product of the Flint River mill is fluff pulp, the absorbent component used by diaper manufacturers. The mill, which opened in 1981, and has 500 employees, was designed as a state-of-the-art facility to use less water than most mills of its kind. It was the benchmark operation for EPA's proposed industrial water pollution guidelines as well as one of the models for EPA's proposed best management practices for the industry. The mill already meets EPA's proposed tough water pollution standards.

Weyerhaeuser will be allowed, through this Project XL agreement, to make process control changes, thus making manufactured product changes more quickly and at less than current cost. The company will adopt innovative pollution protection measures and process changes that will achieve environmental benefits which, in the long run, should exceed those resulting from compliance with the cluster rule and become a model for other companies. A hallmark of XL projects is transferability of innovative measures and flexibility in meeting current and future environmental requirements in cost-effective ways.

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