March 6, 2011

Blue Heron Paper Company update

Hey, remember reading about my visit to the Blue Heron Paper Mill a while back? Here’s an update: They’ve shut down.
Blue Heron Paper Company press release
Questions and Answers about the mill closure

What will happen to the employees? It’s possible they’ll be eligible for federal benefits through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, as their jobs were “essentially outsourced abroad”.

What will happen to the equipment? Given that the jobs pretty much went overseas, the equipment likely will as well. Or maybe be sold off as scrap.

Where will our recycled paper go now? There are some other paper mills in the US, but more and more paper production is happening overseas as places like China make it cheaper, between government subsidies and cheaper labor. So, yay paper products will still get recycled. But boo, they’ll now have to be transported across the ocean for that to happen. And who knows what the environmental protection regulations will look like and how they’ll actually be implemented.

What will happen to the Blue Heron site? Several developers have been keeping an eye on it over the years, but whoever decides to develop it will have some challenges. It’s possible another paper mill could move in, but with the overseas competition and the Blue Heron’s aging equipment, it’s unlikely a paper mill could be successful there now. Other uses for the site would have to include an involved clean-up along with restructuring the facilities. Not impossible, but in today’s economy, possibly more expensive than many businesses will choose to go through.

One local business affected by the mill’s closure is The 505 Tavern.
Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation will also have to find another home for its historic preservation & education materials now.
”Blue Heron Paper: Memories of a “mill family”.


  1. It totally sucks. I can't believe there isn't some kind of federal funding to keep these mills going. They'll bail out banks but not the real heroes out there. I'm glad our class got to tour the mill, and see what they did up close - it breaks my heart to see this go away. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I used to work near that place and see it on my walks during breaks. Downtown Oregon City was rough enough without the loss of the last stable source of living-wage jobs down there. A piece of the town itself is getting shipped away. How very sad.