Maintenance Work at Tissue and Pulp Mills Set to Begin

An exterior view of Irving Pulp & Paper in Saint John. (Submitted)

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SAINT JOHN, NB – A robust COVID-19 operational plan focused on the health and safety of employees, contractors and the wider community has been vetted and reviewed with provincial officials. 

The $20 million maintenance shutdown at Irving Tissue and Irving Pulp & Paper will proceed beginning Sunday May 30.

The mills are scheduled for maintenance every 12 to 18 months to inspect, certify, upgrade and maintain machinery. Recent shutdown plans have been deferred twice, due to the pandemic. The last maintenance shutdown was performed in September 2019.

“The work underway represents an annual investment in the future of the mill and community. Ongoing maintenance work and investments in environmental improvements and equipment modernization are what have allowed it to be one of the longest running mills in the country,” says Mark Mosher, VP of Irving Pulp & Paper, Limited. “Today, the Saint John pulp mill is at the heart of the forest products value chain in the province and sustains many jobs across New Brunswick communities.”

More than 800 local contractors will be on-site over a 12-day period to complete key maintenance work, fewer than historical levels of 1,600. Significant effort was made to maximize NB contractors and there will be only 48 non-NB contractors (down from an average of 250 to 300 in past shutdowns) on-site. All non-NB contractors will have completed the mandatory 14-day isolation prior to starting work.

The COVID-19 operational plan reviewed with officials with public health, Public Safety and WorkSafeNB includes the following measures:

  • 1,300 proximity sensors (offers a visual alert when less than 6 ft. of distance, immediate contact tracing available);
  • 50 trailers for designated contractors, portable single person washrooms, an outdoor dining tent, additional hand sanitization and hand washing facilities;
  • Meals will be provided by a local food service provider, and all meals will individually pre-packaged; and
  • Daily active screening with rapid tests administered for asymptomatic contractors prior to day one, and PCR tests for workers from higher risk areas.

Source: JD Irving