RUMFORD – Scott Reed, environmental manager from MeadWestvaco paper company, presented a slide lecture to the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition Thursday showing how the Rumford mill has improved environmentally.

His presentation began with the year 1990 when the Rumford Cogen replaced three older boilers, reducing sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions. In 1992 the company upgraded its aeration basin, which reduced wastewater pollutants into the Androscoggin River, he said.

The same year the company installed a bleach plant scrubber reducing chlorine and chlorine dioxide emissions, he said.

A big improvement also was installing new sludge dewatering equipment that reduces the volume of waste being disposed of at the mill’s landfill, he said. The company increased the life of its landfill by 15 years by drying the waste so it could be burned and then disposing of the ash, which takes little space.

In 1994, the mill was licensed to burn fuel from tires, Reed said.

Approximately 18 percent of the heat input of the cogeneration boilers comes from the chipped tires. The company can burn about seven to eight tons of tires an hour and get 15,000 BTUs of heat energy per pound, whereas coal gives 13,000 BTUs per pound, he said.

When questioned about emissions from the burned tires, Reed said there is less sulfur and tires burn at lower temperature. He also said that though they contain some zinc it doesn’t come out in the air, but in the ash, which limits landfill use.

Reed said 30 percent of the ash goes to the Rumford landfill and the rest goes to Canada via closed trucks.

Coalition member Kim Sequoia said she had noted trucks going into the landfill that were carrying sludge that was dripping.

Reed said the trucks are not supposed to carry wet sludge, and if anyone noticed this they should call him or the mill to report it.

The mill official said employees are trained in the state regulations and constantly check all processes.

Paul Jones asked if the company reported any infractions to the state, and Reed said it must be done by the next day.

Reed said in 1997 the mill converted to elemental chlorine free bleaching and stopped using pure chlorine, which reduced both air and water pollutants. And in 1998 it installed a steam stripper for removal of odorous compounds.

He said an $8 million project to replace three older washers with a new one helps the plant meet state requirements for color in discharge water.

Since 1990-91, the Rumford mill has reduced emissions of toxic substances to the environment by 84 percent, he said, reduced the use of toxic substances by 47 percent, he said. The mill has reduced the generation of hazardous waste by 98 percent since 1989, he added, reduced solid waste sent to the landfill by 80 percent, and reduced pollutants in the wastewater to the Androscoggin River by nearly 70 percent since 1987.

The meeting was chaired by Coordinator Patricia Duguay, who said MeadWestvaco had been a good neighbor, and the company responded to the neighborhood complaints such as installing the silencer on recovery sky valve in 1998.

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