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Mill reopens

— The Omak Wood Products mill is back up and running again after a mechanical failure shut down operations temporarily last week.

Omak Wood Products President Richard Yarbrough said a burned-out bearing in the boiler feed water pump shut down the boiler Thursday.

Without a functioning boiler, Yarbrough said mill officials were forced to cease operations and send workers home until repairs could be made.

The damaged boiler coincided with officials from the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Environmental Trust doing a walk-through at the mill, but the shutdown not due to environmental violations, Yarbrough said.

Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Suzanne Skadowski said it’s rare that a business would be shut down due to air quality violations.

Nancy Helm, from the Environmental Protection Agency, said there have been “numerous” air quality complaints filed since the mill restarted operations early in October.

Helm said the agency has been in the process of talking with mill officials to get emissions down to a reasonable level.

She said she hopes “they’ll take this opportunity to address the problem,” after the mill was closed

Yarborough said there has been a lot of smoke coming out of the mill lately, which tends to hover low to the ground, particularly on cold mornings.

“One of the things that I want to do is tell the people in the town, ‘Sorry,’” Yarborough said.

He said the boiler will burn more cleanly once it is brought up to full speed. Emissions are often a challenge with new mills, he said.

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