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Uncertainties remain for Crofton mill employees amid curtailment

Paper Excellence continuing to monitor market conditions ahead of scheduled restart in two weeks
The Catalyst Crofton Paper Excellence mill has been idled the last two weeks. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The Catalyst Crofton Paper Excellence mill is in the midst of a month-long curtailment, affecting about 450 total employees from the Public and Private Workers of Canada Local 2 and from Unifor Local 1132.

Paper Excellence announced in May it would temporarily curtail its Crofton facility for 30 days starting June 30 and lasting until July 31 when full crews are due to return.

”The downtime will result in associated reduced production of pulp and paper,” noted Graham Kissack, Paper Excellence Canada’s vice president of environment, health, safety and communications. “Further, Paper Excellence recognizes that it may be necessary to make additional adjustments to each of its operations under these currently straining economic conditions.

“For our employees, we recognize your outstanding efforts over the past year to improve Crofton’s reliability. This decision did not come easily and we know the hardship that this downtime will cause you. We commit to making every effort to minimize the downtime’s impact on our team.”

Some maintenance work has been continuing at the mill while employees with vacation time owing have opted to use it to minimize the impacts of the shutdown.

Kissack added market conditions are continuing to be monitored and a decision will be made in the next couple of weeks about the scheduled restart.

The issue of the Cowichan River that feeds the mill is also a concern for the company during these hot and dry summers.

“We also treat that situation very seriously and work very closely with the provincial government, federal government, Cowichan Tribes and environmental stakeholders, professionals who monitor the river,” noted Kissack. “We’re well aware of this.”

With Vancouver Island currently in Drought Level 5 and the mill curtailed the last two weeks, “the water we would have used is being left in the river,” he indicated.

Only about 20 per cent of the normal amount of water is being used for such things as waste water treatment.

However, water is only diverted for the mill near the end of the river and doesn’t affect the levels upstream.


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The Catalyst Crofton Paper Excellence mill is at a standstill for two more weeks at least under a month-long curtailment. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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