BUCKSPORT — Verso Paper has announced plans to close its Bucksport mill before the end of the year.
The mill employs 570 workers and is a major taxpayer in Bucksport.
The closure announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday.
“The Bucksport mill unfortunately has not been profitable for a number of years, in spite of our employees’ dedicated efforts to make it so,” said Verso President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Paterson. “Our assessment indicates that it is impossible for the mill to achieve profitability in today’s marketplace.”
Paper production will end Dec. 1, and layoffs will begin at that time. The mill closure will reduce Verso’s coated groundwood paper production capacity by approximately 350,000 tons and its specialty paper production capacity by approximately 55,000 tons.
“This decision is especially difficult because of the significant impact that the closure of the Bucksport mill will have on many people across the region, especially our long-serving and hard-working employees and their families,” said Verso Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Energy Lyle Fellows.
Verso officials said they will work closely with union officials and salaried employees concerning severance benefits and other assistance. Verso also will work with local and state officials to help affected employees find new jobs.
Company officials estimate closing the mill will cost approximately $35-45 million in cash severance and other expenses.
Verso currently is analyzing options for “the disposition of mill assets,” according to a press release.
“The Bucksport mill has a long and proud history,” said Mill Manager Dennis Castonguay. “We thank all of our employees, the surrounding communities, and the many local and state officials who have partnered with us over the years. It’s difficult to put into words how much your support has meant to us.”
The Bucksport mill was founded in 1930, and has changed hands several times over the years.
Current owner Verso Paper Corp. is based in Memphis, Tennessee. The company also owns mills in Jay and Michigan. Verso’s paper products are used primarily in media and marketing applications, including magazines, catalogs and commercial printing applications such as brochures, annual reports and direct-mail advertising.