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Riverkeepers file lawsuit against paper mill

By Staff | Mar 18, 2011

HALLTOWN, W.Va. -According to the nonprofit group Potomac Riverkeeper, a paper mill in Halltown has jeopardized human health, jobs and water quality near Flowing Spring Run and the Shenandoah River for at least four years, releasing pollutants that cause fish kills and other environmental problems.

On Tuesday, two clean-water advocates announced that they have sued the mill’s owners, Ox Paperboard, LLC, in order to stop the pollution.

The advocates, Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble and Potomac Riverkeeper Ed Merrifield, have tried to work with Ox Paperboard to stop the pollution since 2009.

“Ox took over a bankrupt plant that recycles cardboard, so we gave them plenty of time to turn their operation around,” Kelble said in a press release.

The lawsuit, filed by local attorney Christopher P. Stroech, Esq. and Arnold & Bailey, PLLC, alleges that the paper mill has violated its pollution permit in every month of a 30-month period ending in June 2010.

The measure, known as Biological Oxygen Demand or BOD, involves the release of organic material that sucks oxygen out of water as it decomposes. Decreased oxygen levels leads to fish kills and other environmental problems.

Kelble and Merrifield have had ongoing contact with Ox Paperboard for two years prior to filing the lawsuit. In November 2010, the Riverkeepers sent Ox Paperboard a written warning that a lawsuit would follow in 60 days if pollution concerns were not addressed.

– From staff reports