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Bottle manufacturer regrets plant closure

The first glass plant opened in US since the early 1970s that went into production of wine bottles at the Port of Kalama, Washington in only last year has shut down its plant. The closure follows claims over a fire in January that destroyed much of the company’s 175,000-square-foot plant.

Cameron Family Glass Packaging had opened the US$109 million plant at the Port of Kalama in late 2008. Molten glass was released in a leak from the plant’s 470 ton smelter during an incident on January 4, 2009. Forty fire fighters fought for 16 hours to bring the fire under control.

Limited production had resumed but the company is reported in the local media not to have kept up lease payments on the premises.

In a statement, the company said: “Cameron Family Glass Packaging and the Cameron family deeply regret having to close the Cameron Family Glass plant, and are frustrated and saddened by the events that led to the closure.

“As has been previously reported, the plant experienced a catastrophic furnace failure in January 2009. Claims arising from the furnace failure, as well as other claims arising from the construction of the plant, are in litigation and the Cameron family cannot presently comment on those matters. The furnace failure, as well as certain other issues associated with the furnace and the construction of the plant, directly and negatively affected the plant's ability to make and sell wine bottles for a substantial period of time, and hindered its operations in other ways, necessitating additional operating funds.

“Unfortunately, despite months of discussions and negotiations, Cameron Family Glass was unable to reach an agreement with its lenders to secure the necessary additional financing to continue operations, and therefore had no option other than to shut down the plant.”

In the late 1990s, the family sold its Coca-Cola bottling company in Washington state. Eight years later, the family entered the wine bottle product business on the Pacific Coast. It was billed as the largest eco-friendly wine bottle manufacturing facility in the world, with a hydroelectric-powered electric furnace utilising the Northwest waterways of the Columbia River.

1 October 2009 - James Graham