Lacking permit, Georgia-Pacific plant shuts downGeorgia-Pacific’s board plant in Duluth has shut down, its water-use permit caught in the snare of the Minnesota state shutdown. The plant’s closure puts nearly 150 employees out of work
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Georgia-Pacific’s board plant in Duluth has shut down, its water-use permit caught in the snare of the Minnesota state shutdown. The plant’s closure puts nearly 150 employees out of work
The Duluth plant at 1220 W. Railroad St. uses water from Lake Superior to cool its processing equipment and then returns it to the bay. Its product is called Superwood, a thin hardboard used extensively in the auto industry.
“We’ve had to temporarily shut down operations,” said Melodie Ruse, a Georgia-Pacific spokeswoman in Atlanta.
Ruse said the company continues to seek a solution to the problem and the company expects to file a petition today with the state’s special master, seeking an exemption from permit requirements until state regulators are back on the job.
Georgia-Pacific officials in Duluth earlier this month received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notifying them that surface water-use permits had been suspended because of the shutdown for all uses except power production and domestic water supply.
State Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, said he asked the governor’s office if Georgia-Pacific could obtain a waiver from the DNR but was told there was no one at the DNR to respond to such a request.
Meanwhile, the Sappi Cloquet Mill appears to be in a similar fix.
In a statement from corporate headquarters in Boston, the company confirmed last week that the Cloquet mill had received a notice from the DNR regarding its surface water permit. Sappi Cloquet employs about 780 people, according to the company’s website. It’s located on the St. Louis River.
Calls to Sappi officials were not immediately returned on Wednesday.