Northern Pulp precipitator may start up by June

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Northern Pulp will use its annual 15-day maintenance shutdown in June to finish constructing and installing a $22-million recovery boiler precipitator.

“Right now, final completion of the precipitator is a work in progress and we’re confident we can pick up most of the lost time, but it’s a wait-and-see,” Bruce Chapman, general manager of the Pictou County mill, said Tuesday in a news release.

“This new unit will meet present, as well as future, Canada-wide environmental standards. While we are behind schedule on the final stage of construction, we expect to have the precipitator available for startup late June or early July.”

The precipitator, intended to help the company meet provincial emissions regulations, recovers heat and chemicals used in pulp production and re-injects them into production. An immediate difference when the technology goes into operation will be a reduction in the plume of emissions around the plant, company officials have said in the past.

While it’s difficult to predict an exact startup date, Chapman said he’s hopeful the final construction phase of the project will go as planned.

In late April, Clyde Bergemann Power Group of Atlanta unexpectedly pulled out as the general contractor of the precipitator project, but the mill said it was able to hire qualified subcontractors along with maintaining key people involved with the project to push ahead.

The Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point manufactures about 280,000 tonnes of kraft pulp annually, primarily for export.

It will have maintenance crews looking at several major projects aside from the precipitator during the shutdown that begins May 30.

Boiler inspections and repairs are expected to cost $1.5 million, and $500,000 each has been budgeted for digester repairs, pulp machine roll changes and pump replacements. Another $400,000 will be spent on steel repairs and inspections of critical equipment, valves, tanks and pipes.

“The annual maintenance program is a major influx of tradesmen, all requiring accommodations and meals over a three week period,” said Neil Fraser, shutdown co-ordinator. “It’s a significant boost to the local economy.”

It’s expected that close to 600 additional tradespeople will be involved in this year’s annual maintenance, above and beyond the 300 already working at the mill. The period is considered crucial for the company, as it is intended to position Northern Pulp to achieve budget commitments and fulfil customer orders.

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