In this aerial view, bent and charred metal remains after an explosion at the Jay paper mill on April 15. The explosion shook the ground and produced a plume of black smoke that was visible for miles around. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

JAY — A week after an explosion rocked the Androscoggin Mill, owner Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC restarted two of its paper machines.

The restart follows a ruptured digester that occurred April 15.

The A4 and A5 machines are now running around the clock, and customer service and sales personnel are taking orders from customers, according to a company news release from human resources manager Roxie Lassetter on Thursday morning.

The mill is using pulp produced by Pixelle mills in Chillicothe, Ohio, and Spring Grove, Pennsylvania,  where the company is based and supplemental purchased pulp.

The Androscoggin Mill’s onsite pulping equipment has capacity to process all incoming pulp.

Recent investments in refining equipment will enable the paper machines to produce at the normal quality and output levels.

“Our team in Androscoggin has performed exceptionally,” Tim Hess, Pixelle president and chief executive officer, said in a release. “First and foremost, we will always remember that immediately following the rupture, they utilized their training, skill, and bravery to safely shut down operations. Likewise, we will always be grateful there were no injuries, and no environmental impact.”

The mill will continue assessment, root cause analysis, cleanup of the affected site as soon as conditions allow, and evaluation of potential options for future long-term pulp production. Cleanup and evaluation will require extended time, during which the third paper machine, which produced non-specialty grades, will not be operated, according to the release.

“We salute the determination that our employees exhibited in evaluating what needed to be done to safely restore manufacturing operations and executing their plan expertly in a matter of days…,” Hess said. “We are grateful for the first responders; local, state and federal authorities, and our neighboring paper mills for their assistance.”

“We continue to be amazed by the resiliency of the Androscoggin Mill and its employees,” Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said. “We are so thankful that no one was injured last week and our thoughts continue to be with them as they complete their ongoing assessments and make plans for the future. The fact that they were able to get the two paper machines back online in such a short period speaks volumes to the dedication of Pixelle and the Androscoggin employees.”

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