Friday, January 28, 2011 -- 12:03pm
BY STEVEN FRIEDERICH
The Daily World
For the first time in more than four years, the Cosmopolis Pulp Mill is showing signs of activity and renewed life.
On Thursday, the boiler was turned on and for the first time in years, steam billowed from one of the mill's stacks. It had been mothballed since Weyerhaeuser closed it and laid off a couple hundred employees in October of 2006.
Cosmo Specialty Fibers purchased the mill last fall and has been aggressively moving toward a re-start by May 1.
Company spokesman Robert Buchan said that the steam is the first real sign to the public that work is continuing. In the next few weeks, the company will bring in 40 of its very first line employees to start doing work on the mill, he said.
Buchan said most of the employees are former mill workers.
The company is hoping to hire 130 hourly employees and 30 to 35 salaried employees. At this point, company officials have completed about 240 interviews, Buchan said, with more interviews planned.
In fact, Buchan said the company is still accepting some job applications for certain positions. Go online to www.cosmospecialtyfibers.com to apply.
Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines said Thursday she was heartened to see steam come from the mill -- a show of real progress toward the mill re-opening.
Buchan said starting the boiler is the first real action needed to get the mill under way again.
"Before you get the boiler running you can't pressurize the system," he said. "You can't do any testing of the mill. It's the first thing that has to go up to get the mill going. You warm it up to get the steam going and see if the valves are holding."
On Saturday and Sunday, some residents in Cosmopolis may also be rattled when the mill has to let off a couple big puffs of steam to clear the dirt and gunk from the pipes. Buchan said the activity will happen in the day time and asked for the public not to be alarmed.
"When the mill was operating, this had to be done every now and then so it's not completely uncommon," Buchan said. "But it's been a few years since it's happened. I'm told it sounds like an F-18 taking off and cutting through the afterburners. This will happen a couple of times each day, Saturday and Sunday."
Buchan said the blowouts might also need to be done again in the near future. Buchan said emergency officials will be notified, in case a flood of 911 calls come in.