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Sartell Paper Plant Manager: ‘Too Early to Tell’ When Verso Might Re-Open [AUDIO, VIDEO]

The Verso paper plant in Sartell shortly after an explosion on Memorial Day. (Photo: Nick Warren)

SARTELL — The plant manager of the crippled Verso paper mill in Sartell says it will be a week or more before they know when the plant might re-open.

Matt Archambeau told reporters at a news briefing this morning it’s too early to say what’s needed in order to re-open the plant.

About 100 of the plant’s workers are showing-up for work each day.  They’re not able to make paper, but they have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, like working on the facility’s utilities, so they’re ready when they can start operating again.  Verso Paper employs about 260 people in Sartell.

He says senior company leaders from Verso are in town to help assess the situation. But Archambeau says he expects it will take the weekend and next week to fully assess the extent of the damage.

An explosion rocked the plant Monday morning killing one worker and sending four others to the hospital where they were treated for their injuries and released.

Archambeau asks the community to continue to keep the explosion’s fatality — 50-year-old Jon Maus of Albany — in their thoughts.  Funeral services for Maus are scheduled for 11 morning at the Seven Dolors Catholic Church in Albany.

Archambeau would not comment on the injured workers other than to say they’re “doing okay.”

Investigators have not been able to get into the plant to determine why a truck-sized air compressor apparently exploded.

Fire crews continue their efforts to remove structural debris and large rolls of paper from the warehouse where fire still burns. Sartell Fire Chief Ken Heim says they continue to remove bales of paper, dousing them in dumpsters of water.

Heim says they are handing-over areas of the plant to Verso officials as quickly as possible.  But so far, the company has not had access to the area where they believe the explosion happened.

City and company officials again thanked the 50 fire departments involved in the firefight as well as police and government agencies who’ve helped Sartell.

Meanwhile, state officials are on-scene, investigating what caused the deadly blast and fire.

On-Demand Audio:
Hear the news conference here.

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See a video of comments by Archambeau.

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