Spill at Camas mill releases at least 124,000 gallons of ‘caustic liquid’

Company: accidental spill contained on-site, no injuries

Less than one week before shutting down pulping operations, the Camas paper mill had an accidental release of at least 124,000 gallons of corrosive liquid.

In an email, Kristi Ward, public affairs manager for the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in downtown Camas, said the mill had accidentally released a “caustic pulping liquid mixture containing about 50 (percent) black liquor” around 8:30 p.m., Tuesday night.

The act of turning pulpwood into paper pulp produces a waste product known as “black liquor,” a solution of lignin, hemicellulose and inorganic chemicals used in the pulping process.

Ward said the spill was kept on-site, did not release into the community or nearby waterways, and that no employees were injured in the incident.

“A small amount did enter our wastewater treatment system and was treated,” Ward said. “The rest of the material has solidified, continues to be contained on-site and will be collected and properly disposed of.”

Department of Ecology staff responded to the spill and, according to Ward, worked alongside spill responders hired by Georgia-Pacific to assist in the spill management.

Ecology staff have not yet responded to The Post-Record’s requests for information.

Ward said Wednesday that the cause of the spill was still under investigation.

Georgia-Pacific has announced that it will shut down all pulping operations, as well as the mill’s No. 20 office paper machine on or before May 1. For more information about these shutdowns and associated layoffs, read this week’s Post-Record or visit www.camaspostrecord.com.