100 jobs eliminated with wine bottle plant closure

100 jobs eliminated with wine bottle plant closure »Play Video

KALAMA, Wash. – A brand new wine bottle plant will shut down, taking with it nearly 100 good-paying jobs, a huge economic hit for an already struggling community in Southwest Washington.

The chairman of Cameron Family Glass Packaging, Donald Cameron, said in a statement Tuesday that he’s frustrated and saddened by the closure, but he said the company couldn’t recover from the cost of a devastating furnace failure in January.

A crucible that was supposed to hold hot glass leaked and dripped onto steel supports, which threatened a collapse inside the plant. According to Manufacturing.net, about 125 tons of glass at about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, leaked into the basement.

Cameron said he plans to sue the manufacturer.

The failure of the furnace and the construction of the plant “negatively affected the plant’s ability to make and sell wine bottles for a substantial period of time,” which caused operating costs to skyrocket, Cameron said.

He said he could not find additional funding from lenders to keep operating.

As recently as February of last year, the future seemed bright for the company that started with a kick-off by the state’s governor.

“Today is a fun day,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “To have another great employer come here to offer good, quality jobs.”

Locals are stunned by the closure.

“I think it’s very sad because I thought that was going to be a great boost to the community,” said Laura Smallwood, a resident of Kalama.

The glass company still owes the Port of Kalama $50,000 in lease payments.

Port representative Mindi Linquist said the organization is searching for alternatives to the plant’s permanent closure.

“Right now we’re talking to our lawyers, we’re looking over contracts and trying to move forward with that,” she said.

She said the port hopes to reopen the plant in the future, possibly another company operating the facility.