Wreckage smolders at the Androscoggin Mill after an explosion at the paper mill last week in Jay, Maine. The explosion shook the ground and produced a plume of black smoke that was visible for miles around. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Just one week after an explosion destroyed the pulp operation in the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, the mill restarted two paper machines after other mills agreed to supply pulp to keep its paper operations going.

The mill’s owner, Pixelle Specialty Solutions of Pennsylvania, said in a statement Thursday that it has restarted the A4 and A5 paper machines, which are running 24/7. Pixelle CEO Tim Hess said the mill will be able to supply the majority of its customers and is taking orders now. It was unclear how many of the mill’s 500 workers were on the job.

Sappi’s Somerset mill is sending shipments of pulp bales, while ND Paper’s Rumford mill is negotiating to sell pulp to the Androscoggin Mill.

“My son and I delivered four loads in one day from Sappi to Jay,” said Erick Leiter, who owns Leiter Transportation in Livermore Falls. “We’re doing everything we can to help get the Jay mill back up and running.”

Leiter said his trucks delivered 64 bales of flat sheets of pulp that can be processed by the paper operation at Jay. He said other mills also are sending pulp from around Maine, with other Pixelle properties also pitching in.

Calls to Sappi and the Androscoggin Mill were unanswered by Thursday morning. However, an ND Paper spokesperson acknowledged that ND Paper’s CEO Ken Liu reached out to Hess of Pixelle.

“We are in discussions to support Pixelle,” ND Paper spokesperson Brian Boland said. “We do have pulp available to sell and we are happy to supply them.”

A Pixelle spokesperson said last Thursday that the company was exploring options to restart paper machine operations, which were not damaged, as soon as possible. Some paper and forestry industry experts had expressed concern that any long-term shutdown of the Androscoggin Mill could have a long-lasting ripple effect on Maine’s forest economy at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is upsetting wood markets.

At a press conference last Thursday, Gov. Janet Mills said the state “will do whatever it takes on our part to help them find another supplier of pulp in an economic fashion and do whatever it takes to keep that mill alive, bring it back to full steam, keep those people employed.”

Watch: A Jay paper mill explodes

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