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Sun, Aug 25, 2019 01:17
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DEC continues to investigate Finch Paper digester issue

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (From news reports) -- An issue with Finch Paper's pulp digester is still under investigation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation after the digester broke down Sunday.

The problem caused the paper company to separate the digester's solid materials into open-air bunkers and liquid materials to its wastewater treatment plant.

The DEC said Tuesday it investigated odor complaints, and found the source to be Finch Paper. The DEC added Friday that a sludge thickener associated with the wastewater treatment plant also malfunctioned, which may have contributed to the odors. The solid material is being transferred to a landfill in Saratoga County.

The DEC said Tuesday that Finch Paper reported ammonium bisulfite to be the likely cause of the odor.

Alexander Rotolo, chief financial officer of the company, said in an email Thursday afternoon that "any odors in the air were insignificant." He added that "there were no odors downtown as a result of Finch operations."

When asked Rotolo if the DEC was incorrect in its statement that it "investigated reports of the odors and determined the Finch Paper Mill as the source," Rotolo responded in an email Friday that "we did not have any other reports of odors and I did not personally observe an odor."

Meanwhile, the DEC said Friday that Finch plans to incorporate lime into the remaining material in the bunker to reduce odors.

It was not clear when the digester might be back up and running and the transferring of material complete. Rotolo said the issue has not affected employees or customers in any way, and paper production continues as normal.

"We do have procedures for such an event; those procedures are in full compliance with the environmental laws that govern all of our materials," Rotolo wrote.

When asked when the digester might be fixed, Rotolo said Friday: "We will not disclose competitively sensitive information regarding when our assets will be running."

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