The Covington Paper Mill
Covington, VA
Oct 30, 2008

The mill is one of the most technologically advanced bleached paperboard manufacturing facilities in the world and the largest coated bleached board mill in the world, manufacturing over 900,000 tons annually. It stretches 1.5 miles along the Jackson River and employs about 1,400 people. It is owned by MeadWvaco.

It's impressive to see the plant, a sprawling complex over several acres, and all the steam rising from it! It produces more than 2,500 tons of bleached paper and paperboard each day and exports its products to more than 60 countries.

MeadWvaco's announced Jan. 15, 2009, plans to close or restructure 12 to 14 of its manufacturing facilities and to layoff about 2,000 workers. The company is in the process of identifying where the restructurings or closings will occur.

Tracing it's roots back to 1900, parts of the mill are quite old, but union officials have long said the factory is one of MeadWestvaco’s best and most profitable producers and houses some modern, state-of-the-art paper making machines.

Improved emissions controls and odor filters have helped reduce the plant's smell, but as you drive into town, you cannot help but notice an odd and indescribable odor in the air!

You can get an idea of the size of everything at this plant by taking note of the van, truck and cars parked along the bottom left side of this picture.

They manufacture paperboard used for premium folding food cartons, for aseptic and other liquid packaging (like TV dinners), for printing applications that include books, greeting cards and sports cards, paper used for lottery tickets, activated carbon for catalytic converters in automobiles and papers for cigarette packaging.

This bridge crosses the Jackson River which runs through town, joining both sides of the plant together as one large complex.

All day long, huge trucks roll through town delivering pulpwood timber to the mill for use in manufacturing products. It was 5:30pm when we returned to Covington going home and I noticed another part of the huge complex and we went to check it out.

Though I know there are "digesters" back here, I don't know which buildings might house them, though perhaps all? Huge pipes and ducts were all over.

This area is full of conveyors which move the woodpulp remains into a digester and then on to sawdust mountains! The sheer size of everything here amazed me!

If this isn't impressive, what is! I cannot imagine how they set these all up. Needless to say, it was very noisy here!

Notice the conveyor in the foreground. It's on wheels and rotates in a half circle. As we stood there, sawdust came spilling out creating the piles you see here. Not ALL sawdust comes out at this location, but quite a few ducts feed down to this last conveyor.

Now that's one load of SAWDUST! I wonder what they do with it all.

Naturally, I have a video of the factory on You Tube. Be sure to click "watch in high quality" at right corner of video for best picture quality.

I love seeing machinery and factories like this, they are fascinating.

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