Failed Efforts to Gain Funding Doom Samoa Pulp Mill

Oct. 20, 2009 - Freshwater Tissue said that it has exhausted efforts to find funding for a project to convert the former Evergreen Pulp mill on the northern California coast to an integrated “green” pulp and tissue mill.

The troubled pulp plant, known for years as the Samoa mill, is located in Eureka, California and produced TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) pulp. However, the mill has been plagued by environmental issues due to its coastal location, opposition from local citizen groups, frequent shutdowns, and lack of adequate raw material for year-round operation.

In 1995, then-owner Louisiana-Pacific converted the pulp mill to the TCF pulping process, creating the only TCF pulp mill in the U.S.

L-P sold the 200,000 mtpy unbleached kraft pulp mill to Lapointe Partners Inc. in April 2001, and since that time the mill has seen a number of owners — none of which could make it a financially viable operation.

The current owner, Freshwater Tissue (formerly Freshwater Pulp) had hoped to make the mill competitive by converting it to manufacture consumer-ready, eco-friendly, chlorine-free toilet tissue, along with TCF pulp that would be used internally.

Freshwater's plans included consuming by-products of the Redwood forest, such as tanoak trees, which are a valueless, disease-stricken hardwood tree species that at present is an extreme fire hazard to the Redwood region.

However, the ghosts of the mill's past may be too much to overcome and Freshwater's plans sit in limbo as the company's latest efforts to obtain federal stimulus funds have failed.

The plant would have served as an exemplary model of responsible and environmentally sound American manufacturing, says Freshwater.

“I left Samoa in 1996 after eliminating the use of chlorine at the pulp mill,” said Bob Simpson, president of Freshwater Tissue Company. “I returned to Samoa in 2009 with a vision of converting the nation's only chlorine-free pulp mill into an integrated tissue mill, and providing sustainable jobs for a green economy.

“In a normal economic climate, such a plant would have easily found funding by green tech investors. The current financial crisis made this nearly impossible so we turned to President Obama's green stimulus plan for support. We had hoped that our Federal and State lawmakers would help us obtain Federal stimulus funding which was designed precisely for green manufacturing projects that are sustainable and create living-wage American jobs,” explained Simpson.

“I am extremely disappointed and saddened by the lack of support we received from our Congressional representatives. Humboldt County needed these jobs and America needed this green technology,” Simpson concluded.

SOURCE: Freshwater Tissue Co. and other sources

See related story:
» » No Re-start in Sight for Samoa Pulp Mill in Calif. (3/16/09)

Also, for comprehensive mill information, see:
» » West Coast Pulp Making (PaperAge, Nov/Dec. 2005)

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