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September 24, 2020

51 jobs cut at Jay paper mill still reeling from April explosion

Fifty-one employees of the Pixelle Specialty Solutions paper mill in Jay are losing jobs Thursday as the company announced more layoffs in response to an explosion at the plant five months ago.

The April 15 rupture of a pulp digester sent plumes of debris and smoke into the air but miraculously injured no one. About 165 of the mill's 500 workers were onsite at the time, but none were in the immediate vicinity.

The accident, still under investigation, forced Pixelle to close the mill’s pulp production. After arranging other pulp supplies, the mill laid off 59 workers in July and said it would continue reducing staff over time.

Pennsylvania-based Pixelle purchased the Androscoggin Mill, along with one in Wisconsin, in February from Verso Corp. for $400 million, after a contentious dispute with an investor group.

Mill manager Jay Thiessen said in a statement Thursday morning, “The reductions are an unfortunate consequence of a circumstance no one expected, wanted, or caused. Everyone affected has been a valued member of our team. We will provide those affected by the reduction support in the form of compensation, benefits, and job placement assistance.”

Pixelle will determine details about further staff reductions after completing its evaluation of the mill and in the meantime is continuing operations with its two paper machines, according to the statement.

The mill plans to finish cleaning up the site of the rupture, determine its cause and develop a long-term strategy for operations, Thiessen said. “This is a time-intensive process. We expect it to continue until at least the fourth quarter of 2020. We need to develop and execute the long-term plan correctly to help ensure long-term success.”

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September 26, 2020
This explosion was a big hit to the local timber industry. I would like to encourage any displaced workers who have logging/tree cutting experience and crew leader potential to consider applying for a crew leader trainee job at Q-Team Tree Service in Naples.
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