Western Forest Products’ Somass Mill will shut down temporarily beginning Tuesday, Sept. 2, due to a lack of fibre. The company is blaming severe fire danger and dry conditions in the woods.
“We’ve had to curtail our timberlands due to the risk of fire,” Western Forest Products’ director of communitcations and government relations Amy Spencer said.
“That has meant a lack of Western red cedar logs to process at the mill.”
The mill employs approximately 60 people, but Spencer didn’t know how many would be directly affected by the shutdown. “It will still be open for shipping and minor maintenance,” she said.
The mill will reopen once the wetter weather returns. “It will restart as quickly as possible,” Spencer said. “It’s dependent on the weather and how quickly we can access the red cedar without risking the safety of our timber operators.”
During the beginning of the recession in 2009, Somass Mill was closed down for eight months, putting around 130 employees out of work; when it reopened in February 2010, only 45 were brought back.
At the time, cedar sales were slumping as the global economy suffered.
Somass Mill at one time employed 1,500 people.
Western Forest Products also owns Alberni Pacific Division Sawmill, but Spencer said APD will not be affected by the temporary shutdown.
“Right now, APD has enough timber to operate and won’t be affected,” she said.
“They process different things.”