On March 6, 2023, Pactiv Evergreen, the current owners of the paper mill in Canton, North Carolina announced that operations at the facility will cease as early as June 2023. The facility has operated for more than a century and currently processes the wastewater for the Town of Canton through the wastewater treatment plant.
The facility, also referred to as Blue Ridge Paper LLC d/b/a Evergreen Packaging, currently holds multiple active environmental permits, including air quality, wastewater treatment, and stormwater. Information and links to those permit files are provided on this page.
DEQ teams from our regulatory divisions are meeting with the facility to assess potential environmental impacts and determine actions to maintain compliance, continue required remediation activities, and appropriately handle the end of plant operations.
DEQ teams are also meeting with the Town of Canton to determine options for future treatment of wastewater. Under an agreement between the facility and the Town of Canton, Pactiv-Evergreen is required to continue wastewater operations for two years.
DWR is in collaboration with DWM to address a groundwater incident having issued the facility and former owner, International Paper, NOVs related to the release. See NOV and related responses here.
The facility has submitted a transition shutdown plan to DWR. Pursuant to the requirements set forth in the April 12, 2023 DWR letter, the facility has provided notification that the facility plans to transition to phase 1B on May 18, 2023.
DWR continues to monitor the Pigeon River and collect wastewater samples.
- Transition Plan
- Preliminary Evaluation and Recommendations
- Notice of Violation - July 10, 2023 | Notice of Violation Response - July 25, 2023
- Notice of Violation - Aug. 2, 2023 | March 2023 aquatic toxicology lab results
- Notice of Violation - Sept. 19, 2023 | June 2023 aquatic toxicology lab results
- Notice of Violation - Oct. 26, 2023
In order to rescind an NPDES permit the facility owner (or authorized representative) should send a letter including the permit number, name and address of the facility, and reason for the rescission request to the NPDES Permitting and Compliance Program. Generally, NPDES permit rescission is regulated under Federal Code.
Pactiv Evergreen/Blue Ridge Paper Products d/b/a Evergreen Packaging operates an industrial landfill, first permitted in 1984. Closure requirements are included in the permit.
Three closed landfills are on the Canton Mill property. These landfills were closed in 1970 and 1982. International Paper is the party responsible for these landfills.
There are two active cleanups occurring from above ground storage tanks onsite.
As the responsible party, the company is required to continue cleanup after the plant ceases operation to obtain incident closure.
Black Liquor Seep
Review Files related to the black liquor seep
Pactiv Evergreen has an active stormwater permit last renewed in 2017.
The permittee is responsible for compliance with all permit conditions until such time as the permit can be rescinded. To be eligible for permit rescission, all industrial activities must have ceased such that no discharges of stormwater are contaminated by exposure to industrial activities or materials.
The facility holds a Title V air quality permit for the operation of emission sources and pollution control devices. The facility has requested that pending permit applications be placed on hold.
Recent Dust Investigation
DAQ has been actively engaged with the Evergreen/Blue Ridge Paper facility over dust complaints, most recently from August of 2022-February 2023. DAQ efforts included additional monitoring and required action by the facility to address potential sources. Timeline of the activity over the past 18 months is provided below.
- The N.C. Division of Air Quality’s Asheville Regional Office began receiving dust complaints regarding Blue Ridge Paper Products, Canton Mill. Dust would get on cars, homes. DAQ determined the dust to be lime dust (regulated as particulate matter, not an air toxic).
- Investigators saw visible emissions from the lime dust collection system during an inspection. DAQ ordered repairs, which were completed within days.
- DAQ Issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) and assessed an $8,045 penalty in Feb. 2022.
- DAQ received new complaints about dust. The same filter was found to need further repairs. Investigators did not see visible emissions during an inspection.
- DAQ issued another NOV, but did not assess a penalty.
- In late September, following new complaints, investigators visited the site and determined filter repairs were already in process by facility.
- Third NOV issued; no fine assessed.
October 2022-March 2023
- DAQ continued to receive complaints during these months regarding dust on cars and homes.
- DAQ set up a mobile air monitor (eBAM) in Canton in October. Monitoring from October through March 9 did not show an exceedance of the PM2.5 NAAQS.
- Lab analysis of dust samples in November detected calcium. This result helped DAQ narrow the source of dust emissions. Lime kilns was considered a likely candidate. DAQ notified the mill it must perform stack testing on the No. 4 lime kiln within 90 days. Preliminary results indicate compliance with the applicable particulate emission standard.
- DAQ issued a Notice of Substantiated Fugitive Dust Complaint letter on December 20. A second in 12 months would trigger a Fugitive Dust Control Plan. There have been no substantiated dust complaints since Dec. 20.
Other Compliance Activity
- Stack testing in December 2022 on the No. 10 Smelt Dissolving Tank found an exceedance of the filterable particulate matter (PM) limit. On March 24, 2023, DAQ issued the facility a Notice of Violation and Notice of Recommendation for Enforcement.
- The Division of Air Quality’s review of Blue Ridge Paper Product’s January 2023 semi-annual air report determined there was excessive downtime of the particulate matter continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) operating on Riley Coal Boiler during the second half of 2022 that was indicative of improper operation and maintenance. On April 26, 2023, DAQ issued the facility a Notice of Violation and Notice of Recommendation for Enforcement for violation of 15A NCAC 02D .1111 "Maximum Achievable Control Technology."
- The Division of Air Quality’s review of Blue Ridge Paper Product’s July 2023 semi-annual air report determined there was excessive downtime of the particulate matter continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) operating on Riley Coal Boiler and the mercury sorbent trap monitoring system (STMS) operating on No. 4 Power Boiler during the first half of 2023. On Aug. 25, 2023, DAQ issued the facility a Notice of Violation and Notice of Recommendation for Enforcement for violation of 15A NCAC 02D .1111 "Maximum Achievable Control Technology."
- On Oct. 23, 2023, DAQ assessed a combined $9,109 civil penalty to Blue Ridge Paper for five violations associated with the above Notices of Violation.