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Fox River Information

Georgia-Pacific is committed to protecting the health of our employees, our community and the environment in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Background

1950s

  • The Georgia-Pacific mill located on the west side of the Fox River (formerly owned by Fort Howard and Fort James) was the low-cost producer of bath tissue, because the mill used recycled wastepaper to make tissue.
  • The company's use of wastepaper was considered by the industry and by the government as an environmentally sound manufacturing practice.

1960s

  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s, our mill, along with other mills in the Fox River Valley, took in wastepaper containing carbonless paper. This carbonless paper, unbeknownst to the recycling mills, was made with a chemical containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs have not been used in the production of carbonless paper since 1971.
  • At this time, the mill's wastewater discharges were generally in compliance with applicable laws and permits.

1970s

  • Once PCBs were identified as a concern for mill operations, Fort Howard began a research program to help quantify the presence of PCBs in wastepaper. The mill researched, identified and installed wastewater treatment plant improvements that led to reduced PCB discharges and ultimately to nondetectable levels of PCBs in the effluent.

PCBs

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a large class of organic chemical compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine. PCBs were first manufactured in 1929. There are no known natural sources of PCBs.
  • Estimates show that more than 98 percent of the PCBs that went into the Fox River were discharged before the end of 1971. Many of the PCBs settled into the river's bottom and have since been covered with clean sediment, minimizing the risk that people or fish will come in contact with PCBs.
  • Today, there are NO detectable PCBs in the Georgia-Pacific mill's wastewater.

Fox River Cleanup

The Green Bay mill has a long history of working to identify and implement an effective science-based solution to address PCB contamination in the Fox River. For example:

  • In 1991, Fort Howard initiated the formation of the Fox River Coalition, which later became the Fox River Group.
  • In 1997, the Fox River Coalition provided more than $10 million for dredging, habitat protection and recreation projects along the Fox River. In addition to its Fox River Group contribution, Fort James (the product of the merger between Fort Howard Corp. and James River Corp.) contributed $2 million to the Phase I dredging demonstration project at Site Management Unit (SMU) 56/57, provided a piece of land that was used as a staging area, and constructed a cell within its secure landfill to accept the dredged material.
  • In 2000, Fort James voluntarily completed the dredging project at SMU 56/57 and provided additional landfill space and services to complete the project.
  • In June 2002, Georgia-Pacific, which bought Fort James in November 2000, entered into a Consent Decree with state and federal agencies and agreed to provide a series of recreation and habitat restoration projects along the Fox River, in addition to purchasing environmentally sensitive land for the state.
  • In January 2003, Georgia-Pacific voluntarily agreed to provide up to $4 million to facilitate additional sampling sought by the state on the lower Fox River.
  • In 2004, Georgia-Pacific signed an agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help design the cleanup for the Lower Fox River based on the cleanup plan previously approved by the agencies.

Currently, Georgia-Pacific is actively involved with other companies in implementing the cleanup of the Lower Fox River, with oversight from the Wisconsin DNR and the U.S. EPA.