Sonoco temporarily shuts down operations in wake of Hurricane Florence

Sonoco temporarily shuts down operations in wake of Hurricane Florence

Company’s paper mill operations in Hartsville, South Carolina, could be down for several weeks.

September 19, 2018

As a result of flooding from Hurricane Florence, Sonoco’s paper mill operations in Hartsville, South Carolina, have been shut down temporarily. Certain operations remain flooded and have experienced damage that could require those operations to be down for several weeks, according to a news release from the company, which is headquartered in Hartsville.

“We are gratified that none of our employees have been injured during the storm and subsequent flooding over the past several days,” says Rob Tiede, Sonoco president and CEO. “Flooding along Black Creek at our Hartsville Manufacturing Complex is expected to continue for the next few days, but we are beginning to make assessments and line up maintenance crews so we can quickly begin repairing equipment to get back into operation as soon as possible.”

Brian Risinger, director of corporate communications for Sonoco, says the company’s employs did not sustain extensive damage to their residences, but the Hartsville plant has 4 to 6 feet of water in some areas. The facility is without power as of Sept. 19, but he says Duke Energy tells the company that power should be restored within the day or by the morning of Sept. 20. Once the power is restored, water can be pumped out of the building and the cleanup and drying process can begin.

Risinger says equipment likely will have to be sent off-site to be dried by companies that specialize in that service. He says he expects the process to take a week to a week-and-a-half to complete. The equipment will then have to be reinstalled and restarted.

Sonoco operates six uncoated recycled paperboard (URB) machines and one corrugated medium paper machine at its Hartsville mill complex. Combined, they represent more than 20 percent of the company’s global paper production.

Risinger says Sonoco will support its internal packaging operations by supplementing them with material from the company’s European mills.

Some of the Hartsville mill’s finished product and recovered fiber inventories were damaged in the flooding, though he says it is not a total loss situation.  

The company says flooding and storm damage from Hurricane Florence also have interrupted operations at three of Sonoco Recycling’s locations in North Carolina and the company’s tube and core operation in Hartsville.

Rinsinger says Sonoco Recycling’s operations in Wilmington, Jacksonville and New Bern, North Carolina, have been temporarily closed and are not accepting material from municipalities at this time.

Several other company operations in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina closed as the storm passed through the region but have reopened. These locations are not accepting water-logged material from municipalities, however, Rinsinger says.

In addition to the repair expenses at the Hartsville Manufacturing Complex and other locations affected by the hurricane, Sonoco says it expects to incur increased input, operational and supply chain costs. The company says it is working to offset the negative impacts by leveraging inventory and production from the rest of its global mill network and supplier relationships.

Sonoco says it carries property and business interruption insurance, subject to a $1 million self-insured retention, but the extent of the resulting claim and ultimate recovery is unknown. The company says it expects to provide an estimate of the impact on the business and financial results later this month.