SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
 
  12 May 2011
Volume 12 Issue 5
 

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Pulp and Paper Mill

Integrating the Pulp and Paper Industry and Ecosystems—8th International Conference to be held in Concepción, Chile, 8–11 January 2012

Ricardo Barra (University of Concepción, Chile)

The international conferences on the Fate and Effects of Pulp and Paper Mill Effluents are a series of meetings held over the last 20 years that were initiated in response to rising concern about the potential environmental impacts of the forest industry on aquatic ecosystems. The meetings were designed to facilitate and communicate the rapidly evolving knowledge on this global issue and allow the discussion and exchange of information and ideas in a focused international forum.

The first international meeting on the fate and effects of pulp mill effluents held in Saltsjobaden, Sweden, in 1991 focused on the issues of adsorbable organic halides (AOX) and organochlorines in effluents. The industry, at that time, was rapidly making process changes to address the release of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDF), as well as a variety of other organochlorines created during bleaching. Three years later in Vancouver, Canada, the discussion had shifted to biological impacts and a debate over the relative impacts of elemental chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching versus totally chlorine-free (TCF) bleaching. The question of whether there is a net ecological benefit to eliminating chlorine dioxide bleaching was debated.

The suggestion that we needed to look at the broader ecological implications of process changes on other parts of the ecosystem resulting from lower yields or higher energy requirements was beginning to be made by a limited number of authors at that time and was expanded at the Canadian meeting in 1994. At the New Zealand meeting in 1997, the emphasis of research had shifted again and the attention was focused on defining and measuring meaningful effects in the environment. The aquatic ecosystem was no longer the only environment considered. There was a major shift from process and effluent chemistry to ecological significance and sustainability. Impacts in aquatic ecosystems were reported at a variety of mills that were either ECF or TCF. The removal of molecular chlorine from the processes and dramatic reduction in chlorinated contaminants in the environment dramatically changed the types of chemicals being studied. Many of the chemicals of interest were now non-chlorinated derivatives of natural chemicals released during the pulping or bleaching processes. These compounds have very different properties and sources within the mill.

The fourth conference was held in Helsinki, Finland, in 2000 and there was continued emphasis on a more holistic evaluation of the environmental impacts of the pulp and paper industry. The conference also sought to feature an integration of technology and environmental impact studies. Since 2003 (Seattle, USA) this meeting is organized jointly with the International Water Association Symposium on Forestry Industry Wastewaters. Both in Vitória, Brazil, in 2006 and Fredericton, Canada, in 2009 the studies on aquatic impacts showed a strong focus on reproductive and reproductive/endocrine effects in fishes and the development of suitable techniques to monitor impacts and identify the chemicals responsible for the observed effects.

The 8th Conference will be held from 8–11 January 2012 at the University of Concepción in Chile. The theme of the conference will be “Integrating Industry and Ecosystems,” and sessions are proposed around the issues of monitoring strategies, impacts on the marine environment, investigation of causes, Greenfield mills, regulatory approaches, impacts on the receiving environment, and aquatic ecosystem recovery among others.

The 8th Conference is organized by the EULA-Chile Environmental Science Center at the University of Concepción in Chile. Ricardo Barra is the chair. 

For additional information, please visit the conference website at www.forestwater.cl.

Authors' contact information: ricbarra@udec.cl

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