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Canton paper mill receives second chemical violation this summer

The Pigeon River runs along the Pactiv Evergreen plant in downtown Canton.
Lilly Knoepp
The Pigeon River runs along the Pactiv Evergreen plant in downtown Canton.

Pactiv Evergreen, which closed its Canton paper mill in early June, has received a second violation of water quality standards from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality this summer. This is the company’s 15th infraction since May 2021, according to the Smoky Mountain News.

The violation issued on August 2 states that Pactiv’s self-generated March 2023 toxicity report shows higher toxicity levels than allowed by its NCDEQ permit.

The letter states that the company should “take whatever remedial actions are necessary to eliminate the conditions causing the effluent toxicity violations.” It also states that there will be an assessment of civil penalties for the violations of permit standards.

This is the most recent offense by the company, also known as Blue Ridge Paper Products. In July, the department issued aviolationnotice alleging that the “direct disposal of raw material or product” was not allowed under the plant’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

The violation alleged that the company had dumped chemicals into its wastewater treatment system.

Pactiv Evergreen issued a denial of wrongdoing at the end of July. In its response, the company said it acted on a good faith belief that the disposal was allowed during the shutdown.

The company has been working to fully shutdown all operations at the plant and clean up the area. Here is the current transition plan for the plant. It will continue to operate wastewater treatment for the Town of Canton until 2025.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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