PaperAge Magazine

Digester Explosion Rocks Pixelle Specialty Solutions' Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine

Androscoggin Mill explosion Wreckage smolders at the Androscoggin Mill after an explosion took place in the wood pulping area of the mill. According to local news outlets, the explosion shook the ground and produced a plume of black smoke that was visible for miles around.(Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

April 16, 2020 - An explosion just before noon yesterday shook Pixelle Specialty Solutions' Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine. According to the company, the explosion happened in the area of the pulp mill's digester. Fortunately there were no injuries.

Androscoggin Mill spokeswoman Roxie Lassetter, speaking to reporters said, "Everyone is accounted for and there are no injuries on that mill site . . . it's nothing short of a miracle and we are grateful."

Joel Davis, of the State of Maine Fire Marshal's Office said there were a couple instances of respiratory problems due to the dust and debris, but people were treated and released.

Pennsylvania-based Pixelle Specialty Solutions, which owns the mill, released a statement Wednesday saying at approximately 11:55 a.m. there was an apparent rupture in a pressure vessel in the pulp mill that released a mixture of wood fiber, water and pulping liquor.

"We are in the preliminary stages of assessing the situation. First and foremost is our concern for the safety of our employees, contractors, and visitors on our mill site."

Pixelle said it would immediately start evaluating the potential environmental impact, and that the damage was extensive, but its exact scope was unknown.

Androscoggin Mill

The Androscoggin mill has the capacity to produce approximately 425,000 tons of paper per year and currently produces flexible packaging papers, release liner base, specialty labels, kraft papers and linerboard.

SOURCE: Multiple news reports