Sierra Pacific pays $13 million to settle air violations | SierraSun.com

Sierra Pacific pays $13 million to settle air violations

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO (AP) ” Lumber company Sierra Pacific Industries has paid $13 million to settle air quality violations, the California Air Resources Board announced Monday.

The fine grew out of a 2004 lawsuit in Placer County and marked one of the largest settlements to the state air board.

At issue were four of the Redding-based company’s sawmills in the Sierra foothills that investigators said violated state air pollution control regulations.

Specifically, the company falsified reports, failed to report emissions, exceeded emission limits and failed to operate and maintain air pollution control equipment, according to a joint investigation by the board, the California attorney general and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District.

In one instance, a sawmill in Lincoln discharged soot, causing a nuisance to nearby homes. The other mills were located in Quincy, Loyalton and Susanville. The last two have since closed for unrelated reasons, board spokesman Dimitri Stanich said.

“The cumulative effects of numerous small, scattered air violations can compromise air quality just as much as larger, more visible violations,” board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in a statement.

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In a June statement announcing the settlement, Sierra Pacific spokesman Mark Pawlicki blamed the violations on employee misconduct. He noted that the company reported the violations to government officials.

“Rather than undergo the great expense of a two-month-long trial, it seemed a much better approach for us to use the money to resolve the dispute and invest in improved equipment that would benefit the people of the state by reducing emissions and improving air quality even more,” he said.

The company paid the fine on July 18. In addition, Sierra Pacific has spent $17 million at its Lincoln plant to replace a turbine and boiler, according to the air board.

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On the Net:

California Air Resources Board, http://www.arb.ca.gov