Interfor to shut down operations in Beaver, Forks until market conditions change; 90 workers to be affected

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Citing tough market conditions and a challenging fiber supply, Interfor announced Tuesday that it will curtail operations at its Beaver sawmill and at its planer in Forks.

The Beaver operation will wrap at the end of the day Friday.

Interfor’s planer in Forks, which works hand-in-hand with the sawmill, will run for an additional seven to 10 business days to process remaining inventories before shutting down as well.

The shutdown affects 52 employees at the Beaver sawmill and another 38 workers in Forks.

The shutdown is temporary, the company said, without providing a date for resuming operations.

The shutdown will remain in effect indefinitely until market conditions change, company officials said.

“Our Olympic Peninsula operations have been caught between difficult market conditions and a challenging fiber supply that is further aggravated by the impacts from log exports,” said Steve Kroll, Interfor’s general manager for Washington operations.

“The mill at Beaver has been particularly hard hit and has been running on a 40-hour-per-week schedule, which is difficult to maintain,” Kroll said.

Karen Brandt, director of public affairs for Interfor Corp. in Vancouver, B.C., said the company will continue to monitor market conditions and restart its West End operations “when it’s feasible.”

Interfor’s West End operations were curtailed for about a month last year for the same market-driven reasons, Brandt said.

The company will continue to operate the Interfor Pacific mill west of Port Angeles, which employs about 120.

“Port Angeles will continue to run as is right now,” Brandt said.

A Jefferson County judge this month rejected a request by environmental groups for a temporary injunction against a state-approved Interfor harvest of 234 acres of timber on the West End near habitat of the threatened marbled murrelet.

That court challenge had no impact on the decision to curtail the Beaver sawmill and planer in Forks, Brandt said.

“This is purely about the economy, about market conditions,” she said.

With operations in Canada and the U.S., Interfor has an annual production capacity of 2.6 billion board feet and offers lumber to customers around the world.

“Timber sales remain an extremely important part of our business and fiber supply for our mills,” Brandt said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 24. 2014 7:17PM
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