In this April 15, 2020, file photo, weckage smolders at the Androscoggin Mill after an explosion at the paper mill in Jay. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The Jay paper mill will be shut down in 2023, nearly three years after the mill suffered serious losses when a pulp digester exploded. 

Approximately 230 people will be laid off as a result of the closure in the first quarter of next year. The Franklin County mill has been battling a number of financial and business challenges after the April 2020 explosion, according to Alan Ulman, a spokesperson for mill owner Pixelle Specialty Solutions. 

Pixelle President and CEO Timothy R. Hess noted that the mill would be unable to continue under the current business model and make a profit. 

Gov. Janet Mills has directed the Maine Department of Labor to send a Rapid Response Team to help support the mill workers and provide resources to them and their families. She said in a statement that Pixelle will offer all employees health care benefits and severance pay following the end of their employment in 2023.

“My administration will continue to do all we can to support Maine’s forest products industry and the thousands of jobs it provides to people across Maine,” Mills said.

Mills said Hess called her earlier Tuesday to share the news of the mill’s closure and told her there was nothing the state could do to prevent it.

“I am deeply disappointed, but, more importantly, I am deeply concerned for the livelihoods and wellbeing of those who work at the mill,” she said.

The owners of the mill chose not to rebuild the pulp digester following the 2020 explosion, instead choosing to source pulp from other suppliers and focus on keeping the mill’s two paper machines running. 

In April 2022, Pixelle Specialty Solutions was sold to the affiliate of a Florida-based firm, following a lawsuit against a Florida contractor over poor welds it claims caused the explosion.

“The announcement of the Androscoggin Mill’s closure is devastating news for the dedicated employees and their families as well as for the Town of Jay and the surrounding communities,” Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Jared Golden said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “Our offices stand ready to connect affected workers with resources that can help provide employment training and job search assistance.”

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.