Lincoln, Maine, USA 03 November 2013 -- The Lincoln Paper and Tissue recovery boiler experienced a smelt water explosion on Saturday morning. This was the result of water entering the furnace and contacting the smelt bed.
As devastating as this incident was, the important thing is there were no injuries. The operating protocols for the recovery boiler include very detailed plans that guide the proper actions when these situations occur. The Utilities operating team is to be commended for their actions in diagnosing the situation, activating the Emergency Shutdown Procedure (ESP) and vacating the area.
The Lincoln recovery boiler is a well maintained piece of equipment that just completed its annual inspection and repair process only 5 weeks ago. We are operating under a state license and we have the benefit of review of condition by multiple outside parties, including our insurer and various experts we use to help us. This incident is quite surprising and requires a detailed investigation to determine what happened and why, especially given the high level of attention this equipment receives.
Safety protocol requires a12 hour waiting period between activation of the ESP and re-entry to the area. In this case, because of planning and safety concerns, we chose to wait 24 hours. This entry took place on Sunday morning, when a team of Lincoln people and contractors, assisted by the Lincoln Fire Department did an initial safety assessment of the area. There was gray colored powder that was deposited in a variety of locations around the mill site. Initial concern that it was asbestos but testing by our asbestos abatement contractor showed that it was not. Clean-up will take place in and around the area and other activities will take place to preserve the asset and prepare it for the inspections and investigations that an incident like this requires. It will take several days to fully determine the extent of the damage and it will take longer to determine and evaluate the repair options we may have. Our insurance company, FM Global, will have a team of people on the site beginning today, to help us work through these issues.
We have developed a business continuity plan that we are using to determine how to best operate the paper and tissue areas during the time the pulp mill and recovery areas are idled. We will make every effort to keep you informed.