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Aluminum plant starts up

March 14, 2002View for printing

COLUMBIA FALLS (AP) -- After a 13-month shut down, the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. restarted the first of 120 pots on Potline 4 Wednesday afternoon.

By the Associated Press The Montana Standard

`` We're back!'' said spokesman Haley Beaudry. `` It was a long haul, but we always said we'd restart. We kept after it, and we had tremendous support from the community.'' The pots were shut down Jan. 26, 2001. Beaudry said the restart went well. The last time CFAC brought a potline back into production, in 1995, the first two pots caught on fire. `` We use propane to heat up the pots,'' Beaudry said. `` There are hoses tapped into a propane manifold. They're laid on the ground and aimed at the pots, with several hoses per pot. They look like oversized weed burners.'' Molten aluminum was then poured back into the minivan-size structures, while workers dressed in protective clothing and wear ing respirators monitored the entire operation. `` There are flames shoot ing in one side and out the other, and guys running all around. It's quite a sight,'' Beaudry said. Once the pots were hot enough, they were energized. The power was flipped on for 10 pots on Wednesday. It's expected to take two or three weeks to restart the entire potline. `` We aren't in cruise mode yet,'' Beaudry said. `` There are still a lot of little adjustments that need to be made but things seem well in hand.'' All 10 aluminum smelters in the Pacific Northwest shut down last year because of soaring power prices. CFAC is the first to resume production.
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