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Boise Cascade says it might close Oregon plywood mill

The plywood mill in eastern Oregon could close at the end of the year, leading to the layoff all 229 people who work there.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

PORTLAND, Ore. — Boise Cascade says it may close a plywood mill in eastern Oregon at the end of the year and lay off all the 229 people who work there.

“We haven’t made a definite decision yet to curtail (production) at the facility, but we wanted to give the (regulatory) notice to our employees that it is a likely possibility,” spokeswoman Lisa Chapman wrote in an email Tuesday.

Wildfires have limited access to timber for the Elgin mill, according to Chapman, but she said the main factor threatening the plant is a restrictive order from the state Department of Environmental Quality regarding contamination in the plant’s wastewater.

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Boise Cascade received a state water quality permit in 2018, according to Chapman, but she said the state issued an order this past April to restrict water use because of dioxin contaminants.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Boise Cascade has filed a lawsuit to overturn the order and Chapman said the company is having ongoing conversation with regulators.

Harry Esteve, communications manager for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said the department sought to place limits on Boise Cascade after learning of contaminants in the water that originated at the company’s landfill.

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“DEQ is working diligently and in good faith toward a settlement,” Esteve said.