Newsweek has new reporting on a topic that’s been covered before — fear about health and environmental damage from discharge of chemicals from a Georgia-Pacific operation in Crossett.
Residents began complaining about emissions back in the 1990s. In addition to the worrisome odors, there were the chemicals eating through air-conditioning units and copper wiring. Georgia-Pacific responded by going door to door, doling out checks in exchange for signed release forms absolving the company of any responsibility for damages to the residents’ property—or their health. “There was this man who was coming around talking to different people about the damages on their houses, coming around analyzing the property,” Patton said. “He came out with a checkbook, said he was gonna write a check. I ran him off.”
Others signed: Marion and Lila Thurman from Thurman Road received $158,000. David and Barbara Bouie from Penn Road received $34,000. In exchange, they agreed to absolve Georgia-Pacific of “any and all past, present, or future, known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen bodily and personal injuries or death.”
Asked about these release forms, Georgia-Pacific says they were issued in response to allegations of property damage. The wording about personal injuries and death was nothing more than “standard legal practice” and did not reflect the possibility that the plant might be responsible for residents’ illnesses.
The plant is an economic powerhouse in Crossett and enjoys defense on that ground for starters. The article quotes skeptics aabout claims of cancer caused by effluent. Politics play a role in how forcefully the EPA has moved against the facility. The agency has ongoing concerns.
Koch Industries bought Georgia-Pacific in 2005.