White clouds of steam and smoke billow out from the ND Old Town Mill on Thursday. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / The Penobscot Times

OLD TOWN, Maine — Nine Dragons Paper has applied for permits to install new pieces of equipment to expand the amount of product the Old Town mill can produce.

The new “wet lap system” is designed to use less energy and for use with unbleached softwood kraft pulp, according to the company’s application filed with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The changes in process and equipment come two months after ND announced a new program that would produce unbleached recycled pulp at its Old Town mill. The program would generate 200 metric tons of pulp a day and create 20 jobs. While some mills produce both paper and pulp, the mill in Old Town only produces pulp that is then sold to companies that make paper and other paper products.

This new equipment will not be used as part of the company’s push to produce the recycled pulp.

This new equipment will add a new process to pressing the pulp, and increase the amount of overall product the mill can produce, ND Paper spokesperson Brennan Burks said.

“The new wet lap machine, which will supplement, not replace, the pulp dryer will dewater the pulp by pressing it before bailing it [a different process approach],” he said. “Essentially, we’re adding a process to our current system, which will help increase capacity for the mill.”

Currently, the mill uses a dryer that employs steam to dry unbleached softwood kraft pulp.

ND Paper purchased the mill in October 2018, after it was shuttered in October 2015 and went through multiple ownership changes. Bruce Hogan, vice president and general manager of the ND Paper’s Old Town division, said the company made a multi-million-dollar investment in the facility. ND Paper is a subsidiary of Nine Dragons Holdings of Hong Kong.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said what the new equipment at the Old Town mill will produce. 

Avatar photo

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...