Scott Mixon: Foley Cellulose values environmental commitment

Georgia-Pacific’s Foley Cellulose mill is a major producer of specialty fibers derived from slash pine trees. Their cellulose fibers are found in products used daily by people around the world including clothing, tires, shampoo, diapers, filters, and towels.

The company uses the best available technology to work with the community to reduce its environmental footprint and protect the natural beauty of the environment.

One of the greatest examples of that commitment is our work on the Fenholloway River Water Quality Project, one of the most ambitious environmental projects in Florida conservation history.

More than $100 million in mill process improvements have resulted in significant water quality improvements to the Fenholloway River. Within the next five to seven years, Georgia-Pacific will complete additional improvements at a cost of $70 million to $100 million.

They include significant improvements to the effluent treatment system at Foley Cellulose, and relocation of the treated effluent away from the freshwater portion of the river to the tidal portion of the river at mile marker 1.5. The primary reason for relocating the discharge is to address the salt content of the treated effluent. Unlike the freshwater portion of the river, salinity will not pose a problem at the relocation point because the salt content of the treated effluent is less than that of the brackish water in the lower reaches of the river.

The water quality improvements will restore the natural flow of the Fenholloway originating from San Pedro Bay, as it was prior to 1954. Further downstream, the Fenholloway river system will meet Class III standards, acceptable for recreational uses, such as fishing and swimming.

Last spring, the Foley Cellulose mill hosted an educational field trip to the river for about 50 advanced placement environmental science and honors biology students. Chet Thompson, Fenholloway project leader for Foley Cellulose, told them about  the historical background of the Fenholloway Water Quality Project and the mill’s plan to restore recreational water quality standards in the river.

Georgia-Pacific believes that to be successful, they have to earn the right every day to operate in the communities where their facilities are located. Foley Cellulose achieves this by contributing to local nonprofit organizations that aid residents of Taylor County and the region. Most recently, the Georgia-Pacific Foundation said it would donate $100,000 for the first phase of renovations to Forest Capital Hall in Taylor County. Forest Capital Hall, built in 1967, is the county’s primary location for staging community events.

Georgia-Pacific’s Foley Cellulose mill provides more than 500 jobs directly, more than 200 contractor positions, and more than 1,000 logging and associated service jobs. Additionally, Georgia-Pacific contributes more than $150,000 to the United Way campaign each year. With more than $4 million paid annually in taxes and $230 million contributed to the Florida economy, Foley Cellulose is the biggest economic driver in Taylor County. Georgia-Pacific is making positive a difference in the lives of our employees, their families, our county, and our state.

Scott Mixon is public affairs manager at the Georgia-Pacific Foley Cellulose site in Perry, Fla. A long-time Taylor County resident, Scott serves on several boards, including the North Florida Community College Foundation and the Perry Chamber of Commerce. Column Courtesy of Context Florida.

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