LINCOLN, Maine — Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC workers restarted one of two paper machines Friday that had remained idle since an explosion damaged a recovery boiler almost a week ago, mill co-owner Keith Van Scotter said.
Company officials and their insurers will meet next week to determine the scope of the damage done by the explosion, Van Scotter said. The cause of the explosion is undetermined.
“We need to understand what needs to be repaired,” Van Scotter said Friday. “It will take us a number of days to understand that.”
The Katahdin Avenue mill’s three tissue machines were restarted Sunday after the mill’s recovery boiler exploded Saturday morning. No one was injured. The recovery boiler burns and recaptures materials generated by the pulping process, company officials have said.
The explosion awoke some residents, vibrated homes several hundred yards away, and drew firefighters from three towns. The boiler blew out several panels atop the multistory building that houses the boiler. Company officials kept the area closed off for 24 hours to allow the dissipation of any hazardous gases that might have accumulated.
The restarted paper machine will probably run at about 70 percent of capacity, Van Scotter said. The company is working with its customers to prioritize orders. No layoffs have occurred, but some workers have voluntarily taken time off to help the company get through the crisis.
“People are being flexible,” Van Scotter said.
Rumors about the explosion and its impact upon the mill, the Lincoln Lakes region’s largest single taxpayer and employer, have been rampant. Van Scotter told his workers that they should be very skeptical of anything they hear that doesn’t come from him or mill co-owner John Wissmann. The mill employs approximately 400 workers.