The A5 paper machine in the Pixelle Androscoggin Mill in Jay was one of two that was restarted soon after an explosion in April. Credit: Courtesy of Pixelle Specialty Solutions

Three months after an explosion rocked the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, owner Pixelle Specialty Solutions said Thursday that it will lay off 59 employees starting on July 13 and possibly more later.

The news comes the same day as Sappi North America said it would cut 75 positions and shut down the No. 9 paper machine at its Westbrook mill as part of a restructuring.

The layoffs in Jay occur as the mill reconfigures its staff to manufacture paper rather than pulp following the April explosion that destroyed the pulp operation. The mill was able to restart two paper machines only one week after the explosion. Sappi’s Somerset Mill in Skowhegan was among those that made the restart possibly by sending shipments of pulp bales.

“The reduction is an unfortunate consequence of a circumstance no one expected, wanted or caused,” said Pixelle Mill Manager Jay Thiessen.

The Jay mill was almost fully staffed with 425 workers by early June and ready to start a new paper line.

Thiessen said the mill will provide those laid off with compensation, benefits and job placement assistance. He said the interrupted pulp manufacturing also has hurt independent loggers and truckers. 

It will take until at least the fourth quarter of this year before the Jay mill can determine its long-term plan, according to the company.

“The process of remediating the rupture site, determining the exact root cause of the rupture and developing a long-term plan is a time-intensive process,” Thiessen said.