Verso Paper Opts Against Reopening Damaged Mill

MEMPHIS, TN—Verso Paper announced that, after conducting a comprehensive assessment, it has decided not to reopen its paper mill in Sartell, MN. This decision is based on the length of time that it would take to rebuild the mill structures and systems that were destroyed in the Memorial Day fire and explosion, and the marketplace challenges that investment would present.

The permanent closure of the Sartell Mill will reduce Verso’s annual coated groundwood capacity by 180,000 tons, or approximately 20 percent, and will eliminate approximately 35,000 tons of annual supercalendered paper capacity.

“After a thorough review of the many factors involved following the Memorial Day tragedy, we have made the very difficult decision not to reopen the Sartell Mill,” Verso President and CEO David Paterson said.

“The mill has not been competitive for a number of years and, despite our employees’ dedicated efforts since the December 2011 shutdown of two of the facility’s three paper machines, our assessment indicates that it is impossible for the mill to achieve a competitive position in today’s marketplace, especially after a setback of this magnitude and duration.

“We will work closely with local and state officials to develop options for the future use of the mill site.”

Verso reports that it has been working with Sartell Mill customers to make necessary production transitions since the mill was idled by the Memorial Day fire and explosion.