BANGOR — Despite protests to the contrary, Kimberly-Clark Corp. is removing equipment from its recently closed tissue mill in Winslow.
State officials are attacking the decision, saying that it reduces the possibility of finding a buyer to restart the plant.
Kimberly-Clark officials countered Friday’s criticism, saying that the equipment is proprietary to the company and not subject to sale.
“I am disappointed that Kimberly-Clark has chosen to reject my request that the mill be kept completely intact until a buyer is found,” said Sen. Susan Collins after being informed by the company of its decision.
The equipment in question is machines used to convert large rolls of unfinished paper into small rolls of commercial tissue and paper towel.
“Some of the converting equipment is proprietary to Kimberly-Clark,” said Wendy Strong, spokeswoman for the company. “We’ve been pretty clear all along that it would be removed.”
Strong said the equipment that will be left at the Winslow mill is three papermaking machines that produced the giant rolls of unfinished commercial tissue and paper towel.
“We really don’t believe that it will affect the salability of the plant,” Strong commented.
The converting equipment, Strong said, will be used in other Kimberly-Clark mills in the United States.
Collins said that finding a buyer for the Winslow mill — not removing machinery — should be Kimberly-Clark’s first priority.
“I think that it is premature for Kimberly-Clark to conclude that removing this machinery will not make it more difficult to find such a buyer,” she said.
Rep. John Baldacci echoed Collins’ comments, saying that he felt Kimberly-Clark was disarming the plant, making it a less attractive investment for a competing paper company.
“We were under the impression that it would be much more difficult to sell if they removed any of the equipment,” he noted. “We are trying to sell it as intact as possible.”
Baldacci added that the state’s congressional delegation was under the impression that all of the plant’s existing machinery would be left intact while a buyer was sought.
“There was no distinction made that some of it was going and some of it was staying,” he said.
Kimberly-Clark, which acquired the Winslow tissue mill after it bought Scott Paper Co. in 1995, announced in November that it was closing the plant. Almost all of the 260-person work force was let go in December after the plant halted production.