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G-P mill wins environmental award

The Georgia-Pacific Monticello Mill has been rewarded by thecompany for its efforts in removing harmful byproducts created inthe production process, improving efficiency and increasing odorcontrol in the surrounding area.

The mill received the 2009 Environmental Excellence Award, thecompany’s top environmental award.

The production process at the mill creates methanol and otherfoul condensates. Those elements are the primary source of thesmell associated with the mill, said Kim Grantham, manager oftechnical issues.

“In our process, as we evaporate the liquid, we get foulcondensates,” Grantham said.

Pulp and paper mills are required to collect and destroymethanol. The processes used to do so also collect and destroyother foul condensates, so methanol is used as a measuring stick todetermine how successful the mill is at removing those elements, hesaid.

Government regulations allow for 10 percent downtime or 18 daysevery six months for the collection and destruction of thoseelements.

“We had had some operational problems that caused us to consumeabout 8 percent of our downtime,” Grantham said. “You worry aboutexceeding the regulations … so we put a plan in place to preventthat from ever happening.”

A team of mill engineers, operators and other specialists wasformed to combat the problem.

Part of the solution was the installation of a steam strippersystem to remove the methanol and boil it into a gas to separate itfrom the product. The gas is then condensed into a liquid form andburned.

“It’s easier to manage as a liquid than it is as a gas,”Grantham said.

The team also wrote guidelines that were published on thecompany intranet, streamlined procedures and gave operators abetter tracking system and training.

Since the team’s solution was put into play, Grantham said, theloss of downtime changed from 14 of 18 days in the first six monthsto two of 18 days at the end of 2008.

“We’ve had zero days of downtime so far this year,” he said. “Italso helps to control odor, but there’s more to it than that.”