Mill evacuated after suspicious pipe found

Published 11:58 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

FRANKLIN—Workers were briefly evacuated from the International Paper Co. mill on Friday after a suspicious plastic pipe believed to be a bomb was discovered.

Investigators determined it was not.

According to Franklin Mill Communications Manager Desmond Stills, an employee noticed a piece of PVC pipe, capped at both ends, inside the mill’s medical department at about 9:45 a.m.

“No one knew where the pipe came from,” Stills said in a written statement. “Our team elected to treat this pipe as the worst-case scenario, evacuating the building and calling the bomb squad.”

Investigators with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police responded. Stills said the state bomb squad determined the pipe had been used as a container to store welding rods.

Authorities on-site said the employee responsible for leaving the pipe had been found and interviewed. It was unclear how long the pipe had been there.

An all-clear signal was issued at about 10:25 a.m.

“Our main concern is for the safety and well being of our employees,” Franklin Mill Manager Ted Lewellyn said in a written statement. “We will take every precaution to ensure that all personnel are safe. I am very happy to know that the investigation found no hazards and that all of our employees are safe.”