A paper mill in Jay, Maine erupted in black smoke on April 15, resulting in extensive damage to the facility but no injuries. Although State investigators reached an initial conclusion that chemicals were involved, the investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.
Officials at the Pixelle Androscoggin Mill believe the explosion was caused by a line rupture in the digester
, where softwood is mixed with water, sodium hydroxide, and/or sodium sulfide to make pulp for specialty paper.
Emergency personnel rushed to the facility just after noon on Wednesday. Bystander videos show a mixture of wood fiber, water, and chemicals
hurling out to surrounding residential areas and roadways.
Environmental investigators urged the public not to touch any of the debris until they learn more about the explosion. People who still wish to clean up dust and debris
should wear gloves and a face mask.
Although no injuries were reported, some facility personnel suffered minor respiratory distress. On April 16, the town fire chief
announced air within the area was safe to breathe.
The facility had been sold in February 2020 by an Ohio-based paper company to a specialty paper producer in Pennsylvania.
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