Brewer News

Cianbro site bustling with activity

11.22.2007 – As the walls of the century-old Eastern Fine Paper Co. mill come down, others are going up, and people are being trained in two shifts to create the massive building modules that will soon be produced as the site.

Cianbro Corp. a Pittsfield construction company, is changing the former paper mill into the Eastern Manufacturing Facility, which will employ approximately 500 people starting in April.

Cianbro was awarded a multimillion-dollar, 15-month contract in October to construct building modules, or prefabricated, self-standing building skeletons, for a large refinery expansion project in Texas, and the company is quickly changing the old industrial site into a manufacturing facility.

Most, but not all, of the old brick buildings that are being removed have been knocked down and the debris is being sorted before it’s recycled or disposed of.

“We’re doing a lot of site work, we’ve started the bulkhead construction, and we’re starting with the cells,” Tom Ruksznis, Cianbro’s site development project manager, said Wednesday while giving a walking tour of the 41-acre site. “Our utility crews are doing the transmission lines. Everything is going in underground,” including water, electric, sewer and technology lines.

Some of the buildings that are remaining are being stripped and painted, and others are being renovated to suit Cianbro’s needs. Between 90 and 100 workers, some from Cianbro and other subcontractors, are now working onsite, Ruksznis said.

New to the Brewer locale is a welding training and testing trailer created at Cianbro’s fabrication shop in Pittsfield, said Tim Pushor, welding training supervisor. The trailer has eight welding booths and is equipped with the same equipment used by active Cianbro employees, Pushor stressed.

“We have 16 people training in here per day” in two shifts, he said. “It’s a 12-week course. The trainees are brand new — they’ve never welded before.”

Fridays are set aside for testing and at the end of the 12 weeks, the employees will be certified welders. The training facility also is used to give refresher courses to those who have welded before, he said.

“It’s all hands-on, entry level,” Pushor said. “We also train our employees to use other equipment” such as grinders and cutting torches.

The training facility is one of seven in the state that is expected to train around 200 welders for the project.

Changing the South Brewer site into a manufacturing facility to construct the massive building modules, which can be as tall as five stories and weigh up to 1,200 tons, is an enormous undertaking by Cianbro that is going smoothly and on schedule, Ruksznis said.

All the needed project permits from the U.S. Army Corps, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the city are in hand, and remediation work is continuing and being dovetailed with other ongoing site projects, he said.

“We hope to start dredging in a couple of weeks” to create the deepwater Penobscot River bulkhead, Ruksznis said. “Our permit requires we stop dredging February 28 to avoid adverse impacts on fish,” including short-nosed sturgeon and Atlantic salmon.

The first of nine steel sheet pile cells is being constructed along the river, which when finished will become the riverside bulkhead, and the hope is that soon most of the old mill’s main building debris will be gone.

“I would like to think by the end of the next week this will be an empty slab,” Ruksznis said.

Because there are still buildings to come down, including the old machine shop, the demolition isn’t expected to be completely done until the first part of January. The earthwork is expected to be finished the first week of February.

“Mother Nature is going to determine how well we do for the next couple of months,” Ruksznis said. “They’ll start to receive materials [for the building modules] the first of March” which is also when some employees will begin to work on putting them together.

This is a copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Nok-Noi Ricker, Thursday, November 22, 2007.