Appellate court finds Glatfelter, not Olin, responsible for Ecusta pollution problem

The U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, has upheld a 2008 summary judgment by U.S. District Court in favor of Olin, thus leaving the responsibility of clean-up in the hands of Glatfelter Company, according to

Olin was an early owner of the Ecusta Mill in Transylvania County. Glatfelter Company purchased the mill in 1987. The appeals court decision, made last week, reaffirms that Glatfelter should bear “the costs related to remediation of mercury contamination released from the Ecusta Mill’s Electro-Chemical Building.”

The history of Ecusta’s ownership is detailed in the judgment: “Olin Corporation (‘Olin’) purchased the Ecusta Paper Mill in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina in 1949.  … In 1985, senior officers of Olin’s Ecusta Division … together with several investors, purchased the Ecusta Mill from Olin, forming Ecusta Corporation. … In 1987… P.H. Glatfelter Company (‘Glatfelter’) acquired the Ecusta Corporation through a stock purchase transaction, in which Glatfelter assumed certain of Ecusta Corporation’s liabilities.”

In 1973, the U.S. EPA took action against Olin, requiring it to address or reduce its discharge of mercury.

When Glatfelter purchased the mill in 1985, the agreement declared that it must indemnify Olin “for certain environmental liabilities under prescribed circumstances.”

In 2006, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources notified all parties that it planned to require a clean-up at the mill, and noted five areas of concern.

Glatfelter agreed to indemnify Olin on four of those five areas. The fifth remained the bone of contention, which resulted in Olin suing Glatfelter, and winning in a 2008 summary judgment.

Last week’s appellate court ruling reaffirms the 2008 decision.

For the full report, visit

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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