For years, residents of Newport have raised concerns about effluent from a Georgia Pacific Mill in Toledo. Since 1957, the company has pumped it’s wastewater through a pipe that discharges into the ocean, about .75 miles off Nye Beach. A new study from Oregon State University is adding to a growing body of evidence showing the effluent is not causing significant impact on the surrounding environment.
The City of Newport owns the right-of-way for the pipe that transports wastewater from the Georgia Pacific mill in Toledo. That lease is up for renewal, and as part of the evaluation process, the City commissioned OSU to survey marine life around the outfall point off Nye Beach.
OSU Fisheries and Wildlife Professor Scott Heppell co-authored the study, testing bottom fish, snails, mollusks, Dungeness crabs and shrimp from several locations on the Newport coast.
Heppell: “In addition to looking what potentially might be coming out of the effluent plant, we were also looking more broadly at what else might be out there in the environment.”
They screened for about 140 different substances, and found… nothing much. None that exceeded FDA levels for human consumption. And what elevated levels they did find – for example mussels in several locations with higher-than-expected arsenic readings - cannot be directly linked to the Georgia Pacific effluent.
Heppell: “I think the take-away from our study is that it’s reassuringly boring. That, at least for concern of people in the waters around Nye Beach, it doesn’t appear that Georgia Pacific is having any undue influence in any way that we can detect.”
Heppell says continued monitoring is the “appropriate approach” going forward.
The OSU report will be presented to the Newport City Council Monday, May 19th at 6pm.