Just days after spilling 2,000 gallons of industrial wastewater into the Kalamazoo River, a new agreement between the commercial packaging plant Graphic Packaging and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) could bring the city of Kalamazoo one step closer to being smell-free.

WWMT reports Graphic Packaging located on Kalamazoo's north side has been slapped with a proposed consent order which will require the company to pay a hefty fine, as well as adhere to new requirements moving forward.

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Previous Violations

According to the EGLE Air Quality Division, between the years of 2017 to 2022 Graphic Packaging was issued six notices of violation with regard to,

Emitting odors from its facility that created an unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property

In addition, Graphic Packaging received several violations for building the foundations for two new boilers without a permit.

Lingering Smells

A longstanding complaint from those who reside near the facility has been the sewage-like odor that emits from the factory and its wastewater treatment plants. The foul smell has been determined to be Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S), a gas that can be emitted from paper mills or wastewater treatment plants.

The air quality in the neighborhoods surrounding the Graphic Packaging plant has become so poor that asthma hospitalization rates for those who live in the 49007 zip code are 5 times higher than in nearby Kalamazoo neighborhoods.

Proposed Consent Order

As part of this new agreement, Graphic Packaging would pay a $99,270 fine in addition to following new regulations such as:

  • Preventing nuisance odors from being emitted
  • Using their current oxygenation system on the wastewater treatment clarifier until a new permanent system is in place
  • Installing a wet scrubber to control odors from the wet well
  • Complying with the state permitting rules

WWMT notes if Graphic Packaging does not comply with these rules in the future it can be fined $5,000 per violation, per day.

The Air Quality Division is accepting public comments on the proposed order now through December 9, 2022. If you would like your opinion to be heard, you can find those details here.

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