RUMFORD — A man was killed in an accident at the NewPage mill Monday afternoon, according to mill spokesman Tony Lyons.

As of 4:30 p.m., the Rumford Police Department remained on scene, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified about the fatality.

The man’s identity had not been released.

Lyons said the accident happened inside the mill around 2:30 p.m.

“There was an accident that resulted in the fatality of a contracted employee,” Lyons said. “We have a number of contractors that come inside of the mill as part of their job.”

This the fifth fatality at the paper mill in the past 35 years. Four workers died during the time the mill was owned and operated by Mead Corp.


In September 1979, truck driver Paul Rioux of Sabattus was killed during a concrete-pumping operation, according to Sun Journal archives. Two months later, in November, Scott J. Richard, 18, of Wilton died after he was struck in the head during a “hoisting operation.” 

In 1998, according to Sun Journal archives, 27-year-old Richard Whittemore was electrocuted. He was employed by Bancroft Contracting Corp. and was working in the mill with an electric arc welder without protective gloves or vest when he collapsed. OSHA found that Whittemore was not adequately trained how to recognize the hazards of electrocution, and fined Bancroft $7,000.

In 2001, subcontractor and welder James Pelletier, 38, of Canton was electrocuted while performing minor maintenance in the chemical recovery room in the basement of the mill. An employee of Cianbro, he died after he came into contact with an energized 110-volt circuit. OSHA fined Mead $9,500, and Cianbro was fined $7,000.

According to the NewPage website, the company was established in 2005 and is a leading producer of printing and specialty papers. The company operates other paper mills in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

NewPage is in the midst of negotiations with Verso Paper for Verso to acquire NewPage for $1.4 billion. When the deal goes through, the combined companies will employ about one-third, or 2,300, of Maine’s paper mill workers at Verso’s mills in Bucksport and Jay and NewPage’s mill in Rumford.

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