Canton Paper Mill
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.
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.
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.
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The permittee is responsible for compliance with all permit conditions until such time as the permit can be rescinded.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.
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. The DWR will be monitoring the Pigeon River during shutdown phasing and will collect wastewater samples on May 19th. Please refer to for here, for referenced documents.
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.
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.