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News / Business

Oregon paper mill reopens, 120 employees hired

By Associated Press
Published: November 5, 2019, 6:51am

WEST LINN, Ore. — A 130-year-old paper mill in West Linn is back open, two years after its abrupt closure.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the newly formed Willamette Falls Paper Co. restarted two months ago and is now trying out new classes of paper made from pulp and agricultural waste instead of wood. Willamette Falls is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Columbia Ventures Corporation.

The mill said Monday it plans to begin commercial production of coated and uncoated papers by mid-month.

The West Linn mill is CEO Ken Peterson’s second foray into the paper and pulp industry; Columbia Ventures is also the majority owner of Northwest Straw Pulp near Starbuck, in Eastern Washington. According to Pulp & Paper Canada, the Lyons Ferry site began its start-up process in late September. Construction was completed Sept. 16. It will take about six months to reach the mill’s target capacity of producing 400 tons of tree-free pulp per day.

The West Linn plant closed in October 2017, citing “unforeseeable events” that reduced available pulp for making paper. The shutdown cost 250 millworkers their jobs.

Earlier this year, Peterson made a “multimillion-dollar” investment to get the mill operational again.

Willamette Falls originally planned to hire 85 at the restarted mill but now employs 120, according to Phil Harding, the mill’s director of technology and sustainability.

Of the first 101 employees, Harding said 97 had worked at the mill prior to its closure.