JAY, Maine — The Androscoggin Mill restarted two of its paper machines on Wednesday, exactly one week after an explosion occurred at the facility in Jay.
Roxie Lassetter, human resources manager for Pixelle Specialty Solutions, the company that owns the mill, said there were no deaths or injuries in the April 15 explosion. Lassetter said there are 500 employees who work at the mill, and at the time of the explosion she estimated there were around 165 to 175 employees working.
"No one was in the immediate vicinity, which was certainly helpful," Lassetter said.
Mill officials told NEWS CENTER Maine two digesters, which are used to create the pulp in the mill, exploded. It's still unclear what caused them to explode. The investigation is ongoing.
The mill's A4 and A5 machines are now running 24/7 and customer service and sales personnel are taking orders from customers.
The mill is utilizing pulp produced by Pixelle mills in Chillicothe, OH and Spring Grove, PA, and supplemental purchased pulp. The Androscoggin Mill’s onsite pulping equipment has capacity to process all incoming pulp. Recent investments in refining equipment will enable the paper machines to produce at the normal quality and output levels.
WARNING: The video below contains explicit language.
According to Pixelle Specialty Solutions, the mill will continue assessment, root cause analysis, clean-up of the affected site as soon as conditions allow, and evaluation of potential options for future long-term pulp production. Clean-up and evaluation will require extended time, during which the third paper machine, which produced non-specialty grades, will not be operated.
“Our team in Androscoggin has performed exceptionally. First and foremost, we will always remember that immediately following the rupture, they utilized their training, skill, and bravery to safely shut down operations," Tim Hess, Pixelle President and Chief Executive Officer, said. "Likewise, we will always be grateful there were no injuries, and no environmental impact.”
“Next, we salute the determination that our employees exhibited in evaluating what needed to be done to safely restore manufacturing operations and executing their plan expertly in a matter of days," Hess said. "Finally, we are grateful for the first responders; local, state and federal authorities, and our neighboring paper mills for their assistance. Thanks to the efforts of many, this mill will continue supplying the majority of our valued customers.”