COQUILLE, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Roseburg Forest Products $22,800 for multiple air quality violations stemming from incidents last year at the company's plywood manufacturing plant in Coquille, Ore.
DEQ handed down the fine on April 24, one of nine penalties the agency issued over the month totaling $323,420.
Roseburg Forest Products, based in Springfield, Ore., manages approximately 600,000 acres of timberland in Oregon, Virginia and North Carolina, according to the company's website. It operates three plywood facilities, in Coquille, Riddle and Dillard, as well as other mills in Western Oregon and across the country.
On June 22 and July 20, 2019, DEQ recorded six instances of air emissions at the Coquille plant that exceeded the maximum "opacity" allowed under the facility's permit. Opacity is defined by how much light is blocked by emissions, and indicates how much fine particulate matter is released into the air.
Particulate matter, when emitted in excess, can contribute to respiratory diseases in individuals and cause serious health problems such as decreased lung function, irregular heartbeat and chronic bronchitis, DEQ stated in its enforcement notice.
The opacity limit for Roseburg Forest Products is 20% averaged over six minutes. Six times at one of the Coquille plant's boilers, the opacity exceeded 20% — ranging from 40.5% opacity to 98%.
DEQ spokesman Dylan Darling said the company has a monitoring system at the facility that continuously measures the opacity of stack emissions 24 hours per day. Roseburg Forest Products must promptly report readings over its 20% permitted limit, Darling said.
Reports indicate operator error was to blame for the incidents, Darling said. Roseburg Forest Products did not appeal the fine, and paid in full on May 15.