Wallace, Carleton: Somerset Mill at risk with dam decision

Sean Wallace is the managing director of Sappi North America’s Somerset Mill. Patrick Carleton is the president of USW Local 4-9 at the Sappi Somerset Mill. Mike Haws, president and CEO of Sappi North America, and Mike Schultz, vice president of manufacturing for Sappi North America, contributed to this column.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is about to issue an order that will put Sappi’s entire Somerset operations at risk.

Over the past several months, as part of Brookfield’s Shawmut Dam relicensing process, the DEP and the Maine Department of Marine Resources have made clear that they want the dam to be removed in order to maximize the ability of Atlantic salmon to pass the dam site.  According to these agencies, installation of fish passage facilities at the dams will not be sufficient for fish to pass upstream.

Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission disagreed and issued a draft environmental assessment concluding that dam removal is not necessary, and that reasonable fish passage could be designed to provide adequate fish passage.  

Nonetheless, last week, the DEP ignored the concerns of Sappi and other stakeholders and issued a draft order proposing to deny water quality certification for the relicensing process on the basis that fish passage would only be 96 percent effective rather than 99 percent effective. If this order is issued in final form (the deadline for the final order is Aug. 27), decommissioning and removal of the Shawmut Dam are the most likely outcomes…

Read full column here.

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