Georgia-Pacific
Company / Company Overview / Locations / Camas

Georgia-Pacific's Camas, Washington, mill has a rich history, beginning in 1883 with the manufacture of newsprint for Oregon's first newspaper, The Oregonian.

Today, we have more than 400 employees focused on two primary products that people use every day:

  • Paper for printing, converting and photocopying, including familiar brands such as Georgia-Pacific papers and the Spectrum® series.
  • Paper towel for businesses such as restaurants, offices and stadiums. This includes paper for GP PRO’s enMotion® and SofPull® automated towel dispensers.

We pride ourselves on making the best products for our customers, and we incorporate Georgia-Pacific's guiding principles in all that we do, starting with Integrity and Compliance. We're dedicated to maintaining the mill's focus on safety by creating a safe workplace.

As a part of greater Camas, including Washougal and East Vancouver, we work hard to be a good steward of our environment and to maintain good relationships with all our neighbors. One way is through our Community Advisory Panel, which provides a forum for the mill and the community to discuss issues of mutual interest in a way that helps to build trust and respect.


Location

The mill is located in downtown Camas, Washington. Camas is situated in the eastern portion of Clark County, approximately 30 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon, along the banks of the Columbia River. The mill site encompasses 660 acres, including Lady Island.


Employees

The Camas mill employees more than 400 people. Hourly employees are represented by The Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers, Local 5.


Operations

Pulping and Bleaching Processes: The Camas mill has two sawdust digesters and one continuous digester that converts hardwood and softwood chips into wood pulp. That pulp is washed and sent through an oxygen delignification system to remove more of the lignin (the “glue” that holds the fibers together) and then washed again. Finally, the pulp is sent to the bleach plant where chlorine dioxide is used to make the pulp white for use in the final products.

Paper Machines: The mill operates two paper machines: one making copy paper and one making paper towels.

Converting: The tissue converting area has seven rewinders and folders that transform large “parent rolls" into individual rolls of towels. The copy paper converting area uses two sheeters to cut large rolls into various sizes for use in printers and copiers.

Power and Recovery Process:  The mill has one recovery boiler that uses byproducts from the pulp cooking process to generate steam, produce electricity, and recover up to 95% of cooking chemicals used in the pulping process. This helps the mill be more energy efficient and along with other processes helps recover and reuse as many of the chemicals as possible. The mill also has two power boilers that also produce steam and power.

Wastewater Treatment: The Camas mill's wastewater treatment system has a primary clarifier to allow wood fibers to settle out of the wastewater before it is treated. The treatment system also has an aerated stabilization basin, which uses a biological treatment process to make sure the mill's wastewater meets all state and federal permit requirements before it is released.


Environmental, Health and Safety Performance

Georgia-Pacific and our Camas employees are committed to managing our operations in a manner that protects the environment and the health and safety of employees, customers, contractors and the community. We fully comply with applicable laws and regulations and challenge ourselves to continuously improve environmental, health and safety performance.


Community Advisory Panel 

A Community Advisory Panel (CAP) was created by the Camas Mill in 2001. The panel members are representative of the community’s diverse residents and interests. In this advisory capacity, the CAP has discussed and addressed such subjects as community involvement, community support, mill water use, permit renewals, mill environmental improvements, and the community–wide warning system. Our mill values the panel’s input, and has taken action on many of the group’s recommendations, particularly with respect to the mill’s contact and interaction with area residents.


Community Warning System 

The community warning notification system was updated in 2003 as part of the mill’s continuing commitment to safety and community outreach. The mill has two electronic sirens, one installed at each end of the mill’s property, that can broadcast a warning 360° within one mile of the mill. These sirens are used to alert the community to an emergency that may require people to evacuate or stay inside until an all-clear is given. Examples of such emergencies are earthquakes, severe weather, train derailments, hazardous materials spills, and volcano eruptions. Georgia-Pacific worked closely with the Camas police and fire departments to create this community-wide system.

The community emergency system siren is tested every day at noon. The test tone is the Westminster Chime. Additionally, there are other mill internal alarms that are tested the first Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m.

In the case of a real emergency, a siren tone is used. If this is sounded, you must tune in to a radio or TV station for further instructions. The emergency siren may be followed by an oral message, such as "Train derailment...possible hazards...stay inside until all-clear broadcast." Once the emergency concludes, an all-clear tone (single, steady tone) will be sounded.


Information on Mill Odors

Occasionally, you can smell a distinctive odor from the mill. The Camas mill uses a common pulping method called the kraft process. This process can produce a strong pulp from almost any wood species. In the kraft process, wood is cooked under pressure in a solution consisting of sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfide, and sodium carbonate.

A byproduct of this process is odors that have a sulfur smell. Similar odors can also come from our wastewater treatment system. The most prevalent compounds are methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, and hydrogen sulfide, along with some other sulfur-based compounds.

These gases can be detected by the human nose at very low concentrations: less than one part per billion in air. These levels are not harmful to humans. Through the years, the mill and the industry as a whole, has introduced technologies to reduce the amount of these odorous gases. However, you still may smell them on occasion.

If you have questions about the mill and its operations, feel free to call our clockroom attendant at 360-834-3021 and your call will be directed to the appropriate person to talk with you.

1883-1900

In 1883, The LaCamas Colony Company, under the leadership of Oregon pioneer Henry Pittock, bought 2,600 acres of land and began construction of a paper mill to supply newsprint for The Oregonian and other newspapers in the region. Crews began clearing land, building dams, and constructing a sawmill.

Henry Pittock, J.K. Gill, and William Lewthwaite formed the Columbia River Paper Company in 1884, and the mill began producing wood pulp in 1885, considered to be the first wood pulp manufactured in the Northwest U.S. On the evening of Nov. 6, 1886, a fire destroyed the mill. Damages were estimated to be $100,000, and the cause of the fire was unknown.

By 1888, the mill was rebuilt to include two paper machines, a groundwood mill, and a sulfite mill with two digesters. At that time, the plant employed 65 people.

1900-1925

By 1904, the mill started up a fourth machine making newsprint. In 1905, Columbia River Paper merged with Crown Paper Company of Oregon City to form the Crown Columbia Paper Company. A paper bag factory was added to the Camas mill in 1906 and equipped with 14 machines. More equipment was added in 1907, including a fifth paper machine.

In 1911, the mill had seven paper machines, employed 450 people and paid out approximately $300,000 per year in wages. The mill converted from steam to electric power in 1913 and added an eighth paper machine, a new wood mill, and 16 new bag machines.

Crown Columbia Paper merged with Willamette Paper in 1914 to form Crown Willamette Paper Company, and the mill continued to grow with investments in new production equipment.

1926-1950

In 1926, the Camas mill started up the first kraft pulping mill on the West Coast. This technology was used to make stronger bags and unbleached paper for uses like butcher wrapping paper.

Crown Willamette merged with Zellerbach Paper in 1928 to form Crown Zellerbach Corp., forming the largest paper company on the West Coast. In 1930, the Camas mill stopped making newsprint and began producing specialty paper. A tissue converting plant was started up, and the mill began producing Zee bath tissue.

In 1941, to support the war effort, the mill’s machine shops were converted to manufacture shipyard parts. In the years immediately following the war, a bleach plant was added to the kraft mill to produce bleached pulp, and two new paper machines (No. 14 and No. 15) were started up. In 1950, facial folded napkins were made for the first time.

1951-1980

In the mid-1950s, a major expansion occurred in the pulp mill, including a larger bleach plant and other related equipment. Also, a Central Research Division was created. In 1962, the No. 16 paper machine was started up.

Through the late-1960s and the 1970s, the mill made a number of significant investments to manage and improve its environmental performance, including a primary clarifier and a secondary wastewater treatment system. In 1979, a 2,000-ton floating dock was installed at a cost of $6 million. The mill also invested $2 million to reduce energy use in the kraft pulp mill.

1981-2000

GP-Logo

From 1981 to 1984, a $425 million mill modernization was completed. Major elements this project included a new kraft bleach plant, modernization of two existing bleach plants, installation of a new pulp digester and related equipment and a new paper machine to make communication papers for copiers and printing. As part of this project, the bag factory was demolished.

In 1986, Crown Zellerbach’s mills, including the Camas mill, were sold to Richmond, Va.-based James River Corp. The mill completed a three-year, $80 million energy and chemical recovery modernization project in 1992 designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. In 1993, the mill installed and started up a converting facility dedicated to communication papers.

In 1997, James River Corp. merged with Fort Howard Corp. to form Fort James Corp., then in 2000, Georgia-Pacific, the mill’s current owner, acquired Fort James.

2001-PRESENT

Since 2000, the mill has shut down a number of its older, less productive paper machines and related process equipment and focused its manufacturing on two key product areas – communication papers and away-from-home paper towel, including towels for the enMotion® touchless towel dispenser.

Also during this time, the mill has continued to invest in improving manufacturing efficiency and reducing its environmental emissions. In 2013, the Camas mill was recognized with a Governor’s Award for Leadership in Energy Performance, recognizing the mill’s reduction in energy intensity.