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Eureka (CA) A report released this week by Simpson Timber Company confirms extensive dioxin contamination found by Baykeeper and CATs at the site of the former Simpson Plywood Mill on the waterfront in Eureka. Where the environmental groups found as much as 80,000 parts per trillion (ppt) of dioxin, a level considered extremely toxic by the U.S. EPA and world health agencies, Simpson's testing found almost double the amount, up to 149,000 ppt. Simpson and a previous owner used dioxin-laden wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta) at the site from the 1950's to 1968. Those chemicals are still present at highly toxic levels beneath the old sawmill, in adjacent drainage ditches, and in Humboldt Bay sediments. The site abuts Humboldt Bay, which was recently listed as "impaired by dioxin" under the Clean Water Act.
Simpson's report was in response to dioxin sampling done by Humboldt Baykeeper and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs), who filed suit late last year seeking clean up of polluted soil and groundwater that flows to Humboldt Bay and the Eureka Marsh. Baykeeper and CATs found dioxin at levels tens of thousands of times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe.
In a 2003 report to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board produced by SHN Consulting for Simpson, the company claimed that contaminated soil had been removed and requested that regulators drop requirements for further clean-up of the site. But Simpson and SHN had not sampled for dioxin contamination, prompting Baykeeper and CATs to hire consultants to investigate soil adjacent to the site for dioxin.
Simpson's new report confirms the significant dioxin contamination found by Baykeeper and CATs at the site.
"This report clearly shows that Simpson's old mill is a dioxin hot spot that is contributing to Humboldt Bay's dioxin problem," said Pete Nichols of Humboldt Baykeeper. "It is time to get this site cleaned up to the highest and safest standards possible."
Patty Clary of CATs emphasized that Simpson's new report underscores the need for water quality regulators to require dioxin sampling at all old sawmill sites. "Dioxin remains a legacy that impacts generations to come." Clary stated. "It's imperative that sites where sawmills operated when dioxin-laced penta was in vogue be thoroughly investigated and cleaned up if contaminated by this deadly poison."