JAY – The pulp debris scattered by yesterday’s explosion at the Androscoggin Mill is a minor irritant and should be handled with gloves, Jay Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Booker said Thursday.
Partially-digested wood pulp was scattered around the mill Wednesday when a pressure vessel in the pulp operation’s digester ruptured just before noon. No one was seriously injured in the incident, which drew a wide array of first responders to the scene. The pulp, a combination of wood fiber, water and chemicals associated with a digester process designed to reduce wood chips into fiber, has been classified as a mild irritant by the mill with concurrence from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said in an email Thursday.
Booker, in an update shared by the town manager, said that the town would be addressing pulp debris in roadways along Route 140, the Riley Road and Route 4. LaFreniere said that the mill will be working with contractors to clean the section of the Riley Road adjacent to the mill itself.
If residents wish to gather debris on their own property into a pile, they can contact Roxie Lassetter, Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ Human Resource Manager for the mill, at 897-1307 to organize disposal. Booker said that people cleaning the debris should wear gloves and potentially a mask.
“While citizens are taking care of this debris, make sure you wear gloves, and if dust is present, wear a face mask,” Booker said. “The chemical with the pulp is classified as a mild irritant, will dissolve over time, and is known as a good fertilizer.”
Debris would be disposed of at the mill’s landfill, the fire chief noted.
Booker also said that the air quality in Jay is safe. “There is a nuisance smell, but that is not toxic to your health,” Booker said.
“Thank you all for your patience, I know now we are entering into the next stage of this where everyone is concerned about the financial implications, and I definitely share the same concerns,” Booker said at the conclusion of his message. “I am and always have been proud of this town and am here for you if needed. Just a reminder to love and support our mill workers a lot more now and in the future. Thank you all.”