DEP challenged over St. Marys water standards

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two companies with plants in Nassau County have filed a legal challenge against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in a dispute about proposed water standards for the St. Marys River estuary in the northeast corner of the state.

RockTenn CP, LLC and Rayonier Performance Fibers, LLC, which discharge wastewater into the estuary, filed the challenge last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The companies challenged a proposed rule, approved by the state Environmental Regulation Commission last month, that would set criteria for the maximum amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and chlorophyll that can exist in the estuary, according to the filing.

In the challenge, the companies said the proposed rule would affect their wastewater discharges now or in the future and would require them to reduce current operations or prevent future expansions. The companies raise a number of legal issues, including alleging that the proposed rule is "arbitrary and capricious."

RockTenn operates a pulp and paperboard mill in Fernandina Beach, while Rayonier Performance Fibers manufactures a polymer used in the chemical industry, according to the filing.