IP: Former paper machines will be maintained

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FRANKLIN—While International Paper Co. weighs its options for the former Franklin paper mill, the plant’s paper machines will receive periodic maintenance to keep them in working order.

Donna Wadsworth, a spokesperson for IP, said the maintenance work — which she described as “turning over” — was not an indication that the machines were being fired up to make paper or any other products.

“There are no plans to start up any of those machines to produce paper,” Wadsworth said Monday. “Part of the routine maintenance of the machines is to occasionally turn them over. That process has happened on occasion; they will turn over a machine to keep the moving parts moving.”

Wadsworth said she wasn’t aware of any maintenance work being performed recently on the paper machines, but did say the process was performed “during the period of the shutdown,” which officially began on Oct. 22, the day the company announced it would close the mill.

The Franklin mill has four paper machines. IP shut the No. 6 machine down on Nov. 9, then the No. 1 machine at the end of 2009. The last two machines, Nos. 4 and 5, were shut down on April 15.

As for proposals to repurpose some or all of the mill’s facilities, Wadsworth said IP is “still looking at all the options, still studying what’s possible for the mill and the equipment, and still talking to the people who have made proposals.

“No decision has been made at this point.”

It is believed that several consortiums, perhaps as many as 15, have presented IP with unsolicited proposals to purchase some or all of the mill’s facilities and reuse them to create an alternative energy source.

“They have been pared down to a few (proposals) now,” Wadsworth said. “The company is now doing due diligence studies to figure out if the plans (from the consortiums courting IP) are workable.”