Pulp mill shutdowns force sawmills to close temporarily

A series of shutdowns by pulp and paper mills in Nova Scotia has forced the temporary closure of two sawmills.

A series of shutdowns by pulp and paper mills in Nova Scotia has forced the temporary closure of two sawmills.

Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield, near Halifax, said on Wednesday it would suspend operations for at least the next three weeks.

In a statement, the company said a six-week shutdown at AbitibiBowater in Liverpool and a three-week shutdown at Northern Pulp in Pictou because of an effluent pipe leak have resulted in a halt of wood chip deliveries to both operations.

Ledwidge said it was forced to cease operations until deliveries can resume. The company explained that it would be impossible to store wood chips for any length of time without the wood chips drying out and declining in quality.

The sawmill is a family-owned company that employs about 56 people.

The temporary shutdown is a blow to Barry Crowe, a truck driver from Cape Breton who hauls from the mill.

"I've got a wife and four children. We have to buy groceries. We have to pay for fuel," he told CBC News. "I've never had an unemployment claim open this time of year. This is the time of year when you make your employment claim for the winter when things usually shut down."

In Truro, the J.D. Irving Ltd. sawmill is closing on Monday for the rest of the month. It employs 80 people.

A company spokesperson told CBC News that workers got the news on Tuesday.

First campaign stop for Tory leader

Ledwidge Lumber was the first campaign stop for Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald when the election was called on May 5.

MacDonald was there to promote the Tory government’s Industrial Expansion Fund for small businesses. The sawmill operation received a $1.2-million loan from the fund.

Both Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter have criticized the cabinet-controlled loan program as a political slush fund.

McNeil has promised to drastically cut the program in order to pay for two other programs to support small business.