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2 Million Gallon Tank Ruptures at Paper Mill

November 26, 1991

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A tank rupture at a paper mill spilled 500,000 to to 1 million gallons of a paper-making by-product into the St. Johns River, state officials estimated.

The 2 million-gallon tank ruptured early Monday at Jefferson Smurfit Corp.′ s linerboard plant between downtown Jacksonville and the St. Johns River’s mouth on the Atlantic. A maintenance man suffered burns.

The tank held so-called ″black liquor,″ a liquid left after wood chips are cooked in the paper-making process. It is burned in the company’s boilers as fuel.

It’s too early to tell how the spill will affect the environment, said Mike Reutter, emergency response coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Regulation.

The liquid pulls oxygen from water, but Reutter didn’t know whether to expect a fish kill because of the size of the river.

Suction equipment collected about 500,000 gallons of liquor mixed with water, but most of the liquid quickly dissolved, he said.

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