The Sun Journal article “Earth Day: Mainers get good grades but …” (April 22) contains incomplete information about the Androscoggin River. The article quotes Andy Fisk, director of the Bureau of Land and Water Quality at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, as saying that new permits for the river will lower the amount of pollution mills are allowed to discharge; but that is not correct.
First, there are no proposed new permits for the mills on the Androscoggin. The current permits were issued in 2005, appealed and reissued in 2008 in slightly modified form. Those permits expire in September 2010 and the DEP has not yet proposed any new draft permits.
Second, the DEP has modified the existing permits slightly, but to say that is going to clean up the river by lowering “how much pollution paper mills can dump” is a stretch. The only change related to pollution levels in the DEP modifications lowers the maximum level of pollution the Verso mill can discharge in the summer by about 2 percent. Since the maximum pollution level is set so generously high to begin with, the mill does not even get close to the existing limit. Therefore, the minor DEP adjustments will have no effect on the amount of pollution dumped into the river from that mill. DEP has not proposed changes to any pollution limits for the Rumford mill.
The Androscoggin River is not going to get cleaner as a result of DEP’s changes, and its sad history of failure to meet Clean Water Act standards since 1972 will continue.
Nick Bennett, staff scientist
Natural Resources Council of Maine, Augusta
Neil Ward, program director
Androscoggin River Alliance, Lewiston