BALTIMORE, Nov. 20, 2019 (Baltimore Sun) -Environmentalists say the controversial fuel known as black liquor, which Maryland counts as renewable energy, is fouling the Potomac River around the recently shuttered Luke paper mill in Western Maryland.
The Potomac Riverkeeper Network told mill owner Verso Corp. it intends to file a lawsuit over what it said are ongoing leaks from the Allegany County facility, which closed in May after operating for 131 years. Brent Walls, the Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, and Maryland environmental regulators have documented pools of black sludge smelling of rotten eggs, believed to be black liquor mixed with coal ash, the group said.
Black liquor is a toxic, caustic byproduct of the paper-making process that has stirred much debate in Maryland because it is classified as a renewable energy source under state law, qualifying paper mills for millions of dollars in subsidies that come out of residents’ energy bills. Mills generate black liquor in the process of making paper and use it as fuel to power their operations.
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