An explosion inside a digester – where wood chips, water, and chemicals are mixed to make paper – tore apart a Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ mill in Jay, Maine. Until the April 15 blast, the mill processed some 1.5 million tons of logs, chips, and biomass annually. While the state fire marshal and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives continue investigating what happened, locals are bracing for the economic impact of a closure, even in the short term. Every day, some 150 trucks would drop off around 30 tons each of trees, wood chips, and sawdust to be converted into fast-food packaging. Locals describe the mill as essential to the town’s economic infrastructure. At the time of the explosion, the Androscoggin Mill employed 500 people, none of whom were hurt. Pennsylvania-based Pixelle purchased the operation in February.
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