Maine paper mill damaged by 2020 explosion to close permanently

JAY, Maine (AP) — A paper mill that was the scene of an explosion in 2020 will close in the new year, leaving 230 workers out of work, the company said Tuesday.

The Pixelle Specialty Solutions mill lost its ability to produce pulp, but continued to operate a pair of paper machines after the explosion. The plant will close in the first quarter of 2023.

“Economic forces beyond our control have combined to make the plant’s profitable operations unsustainable,” Timothy Hess, president and CEO of Pennsylvania-based Pixelle, said in a statement.

US sensitivities Susan Collins and Angus King, and US Representative Jared Golden called it “devastating news” for workers, their families and the community.

The April 2020 explosion shook the ground and sent debris and a mush of chemicals raining down on nearby cars and buildings.

No one was hurt. But later the paper machines had to use pulp purchased from other mills, adding to the financial strain on the mill, the company said.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said the state had offered support but was told there was nothing stopping the shutdown.

The factory was built in the mid-1960s in Jay, which today is a community of about 5,000 people.