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Update on International Paper explosion

CANTONMENT, Florida (From news reports) -- Nearly two full days after an explosion occurred at International Paper's mill plant in Cantonment, Fla. near Pensacola, officials from International Paper and local, state, and federal agencies held a press conference to give updates on the ongoing efforts to remediate and clean up the areas impacted by the explosion.

Mill Manager Brett DeJong dispelled rumors the past couple of days that the accident could lead to the closing of the facility, after 75 years in Cantonment.

"[International Paper] is a large company, committed to re-establishing operations at the facility," said DeJong. "Exactly how long that will take is yet to be determined, but we have staff coming from all over the company that can help us."

The immediate task for IP, says DeJong, is providing restitution to the employees and residents affected by the explosion. He adds that, even though the plant is shut down, employees will have other jobs in the cleanup.

The plant experienced what International Paper spokesperson Thomas Ryan called a "manufacturing process failure," causing "significant structural damage to the largest pulp digester as well as the power house."

Officials did not give any new updates on the events that led up to and caused the rupture, primarily discussing the health, environmental, and operational impacts of the explosion.

International Paper's Pensacola Mill was originally opened in 1941 by the Florida Pulp and Paper Company; it became part of International Paper in 2000. The mill currently has around 450 employees.

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Join Jim Thompson on the 2nd Annual Papermakers Mission Trip to Guatemala, 22 - 29 July 17. Build houses, talk about the pulp and paper industry. For more information, email jthompson@taii.com with "Guatemala" in the subject line.


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