Verso, Owner of the Company Refuses to Stop Polluting

Washington, D.C.March 25 – Upper Potomac Riverkeeper (UPRK) Brent Walls today announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against Verso Corporation, the owner of the closed Luke, Maryland papermill for the ongoing pollution of the Potomac River with “black liquor,” a byproduct of paper production.
Said Walls, “Three months ago, we served notice to Verso that we would file suit against it if it failed to stop polluting the Potomac River with this toxic black liquor. Unfortunately, Verso has failed to act, even though the State of Maryland has also filed suit against the company.”

Black liquor is a byproduct of paper production and it is seeping into the river near a railroad piling, apparently from a leak or spill at the industrial facility. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing storage and disposal of hazardous and solid waste.

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls, whose investigation uncovered the discharge, said, “Sampling of the discharged material by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and PRKN suggest the presence of ‘black liquor,’ possibly mixed with coal ash.” Black liquor, a caustic mix of chemicals and wood waste from the paper-making process at the plant, in addition to having a high pH, contains hazardous constituents at concentrations that are harmful to aquatic life and humans. Coal ash contains a range of harmful constituents, including arsenic, mercury and boron, all of which were found in PRKN’s sampling.