It’s not in your head: Mill smell has been worse, but fix is coming

If you’ve been anywhere near Camas in the past few months, you may have noticed that things are, well, a little bit stinkier.

The bad news is that there’s a reason for the increased odor.

The good news is that a fix is in the works, and the smell should be better by July.

Late last week, Kristi Ward, public affairs manager for the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Camas, sent an email to Camas-area officials and business leaders regarding odor.

“Earlier this year, we experienced a mechanical failure on our No. 5 power boiler fan system,” Ward explained. “We are currently operating on our backup pulping gas collection system.”

Although the backup system complies with all state and federal permits, Ward said the older system “is causing citizens to detect mill odor more often than what they’ve come to expect from us.”

Ward said the mill is waiting to get the right parts to fix its No. 5 power boiler fan system.

Those parts should be here later this month and Ward expects that the mill will have the “less smelly” system up and running again on June 26.

“Once we start up our primary gas collection system, we believe

this will reduce the increased intermittent odor that is currently being experienced,” Ward stated.

Talking to The Post-Record after the email went out to Camas business leaders and politicians, Ward said the odor has probably been a bit worse since the mechanical failure on the No. 5 power boiler fan system “a few months ago,” but that many residents may not have noticed it thanks to months of constant rain.

Once the weather changed, pulling people outside to enjoy the sunny days and springtime temperatures, Ward said people started to notice the uptick in the mill odor.

At a Camas City Council workshop on Monday, a resident mentioned to the council and mayor that he’d recently noticed the not-so-pleasant mill smells.

Mayor Scott Higgins, who was one of Ward’s email recipients, said the mill’s management was aware of the problem and that a fix was on the way later this month.

In her correspondence with Camas leaders, Ward thanked them for their patience and said mill administrators appreciated the community’s feedback.

“We continue to encourage our neighbors to contact our 24-hour clockroom at 360-834-3021 if they have any comments on our facility,” Ward stated.