Advance Notice: Briefs

EGLE finds Kalamazoo packaging plant violated air contaminants rule

By: - December 21, 2022 10:07 am

Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) on Tuesday announced that it has issued a violation notice to a Kalamazoo-based packaging facility based on findings that Graphic Packaging International has violated state air quality standards.

EGLE performed an investigation on Wednesday in response to a same-day complaint of foul odors coming from the facility, which produces and labels paper-based packaging for a variety of products and has previously been in hot water for a number of wastewater spills over the last decade.

The investigation confirmed that “strong and persistent odors” were detected off-site and issued on Monday a violation notice to Graphic Packaging. The industrial plant was found to be in violation of Rule 901 — a state air pollution control regulation prohibiting emissions of air contaminants that can cause injurious effects to human health or safety, animal life, plant life or significant economic value or property.

“In the professional judgment of AQD [Air Quality Division] staff, the odors that were observed were of sufficient intensity, frequency and duration so as to constitute a violation of Rule 901,” the Monday letter reads.

Graphic Packaging has until Jan. 9 to correct the violation and submit a written response to EGLE, which should include steps taken to correct the violation and to prevent a recurrence.

This is not the plant’s first spot of pollution-related trouble.

On Oct. 20, a spill of the paper mill’s wastewater was discharged into a drain that connects to the Kalamazoo River, polluting the river with about 1,500 gallons of the substance. Graphic Packaging has disputed that the river received any of the wastewater.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons were spilled in total. According to EGLE, the incident was Graphic Packaging’s third spill this year and the 10th spill since 2011.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).