State Rep. Tony Shipley
Legislation aimed at allowing state-granted variances to the frequency of industrial power boiler inspections is advancing in the Tennessee General Assembly.
State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, sponsored the bill in the state House after consulting with officials at Kingsport's Domtar paper mill, which employs more than 320 workers.
The bill has passed in the state Senate and awaits consideration in the House Finance Committee.
"Twenty-first century technology in the boiler business has come to a point that the old law governing the maintenance and inspection of boilers probably needed to be looked at," Shipley said before the bill was recently approved by the House Business and Utilities Committee. "Domtar is one of the big employers in my community."
Domtar, Shipley told the committee, asked the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) to give it a mechanism to apply for variances "if it was justified" to not inspect a boiler every single year.
"Every day this company shuts (down) a boiler, they lose a million dollars," Shipley said. "The average cost of shutting that boiler down on an annual basis exceeds $10 million. That forces (Domtar) into a position that is not competitive in surrounding states with paper mills. It also takes money out of their hands they could invest otherwise."
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