BUCKSPORT — The closure of a Verso paper mill in Minnesota means more paper will be produced at the company’s two Maine mills.
That increased production will not result in any new jobs in Maine, however, according to Verso spokesman Bill Cohen.
In a press release issued Aug. 2, Verso announced it is permanently closing its mill in Sartell, Minn., which was heavily damaged as the result of an explosion and fire on May 28.
That incident left one Verso employee dead and four others injured.
Verso President and CEO David Paterson said the Sartell mill “has not been competitive for a number of years” and that company officials believed it would be “impossible for the mill to achieve a competitive position in today’s marketplace, especially after a setback of this magnitude and duration.”
Company officials said closing the mill, though, was still a “very difficult decision” and thanked employees for their work.
Cohen said that when the Sartell mill was first closed after the explosion and fire in May, some production was temporarily moved to Verso’s mills in Bucksport and Jay.
With the closure of the Sartell mill, that shift will become permanent.
While it might be easy to see that simply as good news for the Bucksport and Jay mills, Cohen said the pulp and paper industry is like a big family that feels the pain of a loss no matter where it occurs.
“That’s 279 jobs in the family that have now gone away,” said Cohen, referring to the number of people who lost their jobs as a result of the Sartell mill closure.
The Sartell mill opened in 1905, according to Verso’s website. As in Bucksport, the mill there is described as an “icon” and the community’s “top taxpayer,” according to news accounts from Minnesota.