Maine paper mill agrees to tackle gas leak problem

International Paper Company has agreed to take action to reduce the chance of future gas leaks at its mill, action crucial to restoring confidence in the community, says Gov. John McKernan Jr. Mr. McKernan and IP chairman John Georges held a lengthy meeting, called at the governor's request, to discuss recent accidents at the mill.

On Sunday, McKernan sent a team of state environmental and labor officials to the mill after a chlorine leak sent seven workers to area hospitals.

This latest leak came barely a week after nearly 4,000 people were forced from Jay and nearby towns for several hours because of a chlorine dioxide leak.

Mr. Georges said IP already had increased from two to six the number of supervisors on each shift, and he said the company would work with the state to hire an independent engineering firm - at IP's expense - to inspect the mill.

Georges said it was the first time he had ever been called to meet with a governor about health and safety.

McKernan also called on investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch a full-scale review of the plant's processes.

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