Lincoln paper mill awaits estimate on explosion repair costs

The Lincoln Paper Mill where the explosion occurred.
Nick Sambides Jr./BDN
The Lincoln Paper Mill where the explosion occurred.
Posted Nov. 19, 2013, at 12:22 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 19, 2013, at 4 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC officials continue to work with their insurance company to determine the cost of repairing or replacing a recovery boiler that exploded on Nov. 2, company co-owner Keith Van Scotter said Tuesday.

The company is trucking in wood pulp to feed one of its two paper machines and has its three tissue machines operational as workers “continue to move toward as normal an operation as we can get,” Van Scotter said.

“We are recognizing that time is of the essence,” Van Scotter said. “It is like anytime you have a big loss with your home. You work with your insurance company to work out a plan and then you follow the plan.”

No layoffs have occurred and no cost estimates on the repairs are available, Van Scotter said.

Company officials believe that a tube within the boiler leaked water onto a hot smelt bed, creating steam and pressure that escalated into an explosion on Nov. 2, Van Scotter said. Outside inspectors and company workers had just completed the state-licensed boiler’s annual inspection and repair process five weeks before.

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 company plans to run its pulp mill at a reduced capacity over the winter to cut its need for outside pulp and to help heat the facility during the winter, according to a statement on its website, lpt.com.

Lincoln’s largest single employer, the company employs about 400 workers.

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