Paper mill faces critics


The Blue Heron Paper Company is being scrutinized by the Department of Environmental Quality as a “major source of hazardous air pollutants.”

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The Blue Heron Paper Company is being scrutinized by the Department of Environmental Quality as a “major source of hazardous air pollutants.”

Public comment sessions have accompanied the DEQ’s hearings to renew and update the paper mill’s permit.

As standard procedure for what can often be a contentious process, DEQ presented seven ground rules for the discussion, which were possibly broken just once, when participants broke out in laughter upon hearing that Blue Heron complies with air quality standards based on readings about 10 miles away. A site in Canby tests the air year-round for ozone problems, while Portland has the nearest instruments for testing particulate matter. Blue Heron burns both fossil fuels and wood.

While Blue Heron is the city’s biggest polluter, it is also a huge source of revenue. The company has paid between $80,000 and $131,000 annually to the city in property taxes since 2003, making it the highest property-tax payer in the city. Blue Heron also pays a franchise fee to the city associated with its energy use. That has contributed between $220,000 and $275,000 to the city per year since 2004. The employee- owned paper mill also employs 216 people.

Read more at the Portland Tribune.

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