STARBUCK — The Columbia Pulp mill is now looking for a midsummer startup, said CEO John Begley.

In an email, Begley said teams are continuing to commission the $145 million plant. This final stage of work involves “going through all the systems and checking them out — making sure they work and that they are working with the other systems in the plant,” he said.

“A pulp mill is a very complex collection of components. You need to be sure they are not only operating, but they are working together as designed.”

Located on a 45-acre site near Lyons Ferry, the facility will convert wheat and seed alfalfa straw purchased from farmers within a 75-mile radius of the plant into pulp to be used as consumer and molded-fiber products.

Begley said about two-thirds of the job positions are filled, but the company is still hiring, mostly for operational positions.

The mill near Starbuck is expected to employ about 100 skilled employees. When fully operational, the plant is projected to produce 410 short air-dried tons of wet lap pulp daily.

The process for conversion was developed by scientists William McKean and Mark Lewis.


Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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