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Jay Mill Says It Won't Rebuild Pulp Digester Destroyed In Explosion

Rebecca Conley
Maine Public
Damage at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay in April, where an explosion started in a digester tank.

Pixelle Specialty Solutions, the company that owns the Jay paper mill, says it won’t attempt to rebuild a pulp digester destroyed in an explosion last April.

The ruptured digester triggered the shutdown of one of three papermaking machines at the mill and the layoffs of 177 employees.

In a written statement Wednesday morning, Pixelle says more than 250 jobs will remain. Those employees will continue to operate two paper machines, using pulp from other mills, including some from Maine. The machines will turn out paper used in food packaging, pressure-sensitive release liners and labels, packaging tapes and insulation backing for building materials, among others.

“This long-term plan keeps a large number of employees working to meet our customers’ needs for excellent products and services. It also benefits many in Maine impacted by the pulp digester incident by sourcing pulp from Maine-based providers,” Pixelle Chief Executive Officer Timothy Hess says in the statement.

Wednesday’s announcement affirms what the company had said as far back as July about its future direction.

Pixelle’s statement also says the company has established a $1 million fund that will support job retraining for former employees who were laid off due to the digester rupture.

Gov. Janet Mills said today that the news was "incredibly difficult" for the town of Jay and the entire state,  and was another blow to Maine's forest products sector. She says her administration will do all it can to help those impacted by the company's decision, and to try and help stabilize the industry.