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September 4, 1996

Contact: John P. Ximenes

EPA Confirms Steady Decline
In Dioxin Advisories Downstream Of Pulp Mills:
More Than 50 Percent Decrease Documented Since 1990

(WASHINGTON) --- The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Consumption Advisories shows that out of 1,740 total waterbody advisories in the U.S., 55 are attributed to dioxin, representing 2 percent of the total affected waterbodies in the country. According to further analysis by the Alliance for Environmental Technology (AET), of these 55 dioxin advisories, only 18 are downstream of bleached chemical pulp mills --- one percent of the total 1,740 waterbodies under advisory at the end of 1995.

AET's 1996 report, "Eco-System Recovery: Liftings of Fish Consumption Advisories for Dioxin Downstream of U.S. Pulp Mills," credits the steady decline in these advisories to the considerable drop, and, in most cases, virtual elimination of dioxin discharges due to increased substitution of chlorine dioxide for chlorine gas in the first stage of chemical pulp bleaching. The report, based on 1995 and 1996 data from individual state environmental and health authorities, shows that since 1990, 13 states have lifted a total of 17 fish consumption advisories for dioxin downstream of pulp mills. This represents a more than 50 percent decline in the total number of these advisories in place at the end of 1990.

"The voluntary process change from chlorine to chlorine dioxide is a result of the industry's continued commitment to pollution prevention and protection of waterbodies downstream of pulp mills," said Doug Pryke, Executive Director of AET.

In a "Notice," published in the Federal Register on July 15, 1996, EPA cited two options for BAT (Best Available Technology) for the proposed pulp and paper Cluster Rule, both of which recognized an Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) process (100 percent substitution of chlorine dioxide for chlorine). Once promulgated, the Cluster Rule will dictate effluent limitations and pretreatment guidelines for all pulp, paper, and paperboard mills.

"The industry has already adopted a successful virtual elimination strategy based on the use of chlorine dioxide that is likely to become the EPA and industry standard. As we look toward the future, the focus is shifting to exploring and developing the concept of 'closed loop systems', or 'minimum impact mills' designed to recover mill wastewaters," said Mr. Pryke.

The Alliance for Environmental Technology is an international association of chemical manufacturers and forest product companies dedicated to improving the environmental performance of the pulp and paper industry. The full text report is available by calling (800) 999-PULP.