Shelton’s Olympic Panel Plant Sabotaged After Sale

Springfield Forest Products Plant burns to the ground.

Shelton, WA (4-20-15) — Olympic Panel Products has sent a letter to all of its employees about several incidents of attempted or actual sabotage of its facilities in downtown Shelton after its reported sale to Swanson (OPP to be Cannibalized), a plywood manufacturer in Springfield, OR whose facilities were lost to fire last year. Copies of the letter threatening closure if the sabotage can’t/won’t be stopped were forwarded to Bill Corbin, chairman of the  board of New Wood Resources LLC, and its CEO, Kurt Liebich.

The letter to employees and stake holders relates several instances of malevolence including 2 separate occasions of steel bolts being pressed into the plywood panels. A 3rd bolt was discovered before it could be pressed into a panel. The company pointedly described how such a hazard could destroy expensive routing or saw blade tools as well as the injuries/death to workers that could be suffered from the flying shrapnel. OPP didn’t mention the obvious reduction of confidence in its products that already could give potential customers pause.

A flooding of the pit beneath one of the presses damaged equipment and caused loss of production. A mounting bracket was pressed between two platens (the large precision steel surfaces required to produce smooth level sheets of plywood) incurring a $25,000 loss to OPP for repairs. Another Press platen was found bent at the beginning of the day shift after it had not been used during the previous graveyard shift.

Someone removed propane tanks from a forklift on site, deliberately spilling the contents inside the repair shop. The danger to the health and safety of workers as well as the existence of the plant was self evident. OPP management was made aware of two large propane tanks having their valves opened to bleed the explosive  fuel into the maintenance shop, as were the local police, the ATF, the fire department and likely the FBI on at least two occasions during the week of 4-6-15.

OPP stated it sought to ‘mitigate’ the anticipated “riffs” by continuing its operation for the next 12-18 months, but that game plan is now very much in doubt. The question of what insurance underwriter would want to be left holding the bag in the face of such a pronounced ‘moral hazard’ begs to be answered. OPP may want to continue operating until its lease has expired, but is it willing to continue to sit at the poker table risking all of its chips to a malevolent nameless nemisis when it could cash them in immediately.

OPP has already terminated 25 workers. Any employees found to be using cell phones or a camera inside the plant are told they’ll be terminated immediately. Its threat to summarily close down the facilities cannot be taken lightly and the letter may simply have served as a pretext for doing so. The company’s suggested remedial action it intends to take include the following:

Regular shift meetings with employees will be held to discuss safety concerns and to review ‘incidents’.

The police have been notified and OPP is cooperating with authorities in their investigation of the sabotage.

Video surveillance cameras will be installed.

Increased onsite ‘security’ patrols will be dispatched.

Propane tanks will be removed from the inside of buildings and the shop.

An anonymous ‘hot-line’ will be set up for employees to report any illegal/suspicious activities. OPP is requesting employees use the hot-line to do so, and promises any discovered to have avoided reporting the same will be terminated and prosecuted, if possible.

OPP openly announced in its letter to ‘constituents’ that should the above measures fail, if the plant can’t “be operated safely”, it will cease operations altogether. Employees will be pounding the bricks sooner than later. Meetings with local uniformed police and the president of OPP have already been held. The company states it hopes these steps will lead to  the arrest of the saboteurs or in some way STOP the sabotage.

The letter, signed by OPP president John Pierce (360-432-5003) invites workers to call or visit his office with an open door policy to discuss/report concerns. (Apparently, the door won’t be ‘opened’ until Wednesday as the receptionist claimed he wasn’t in his office Monday afternoon and wouldn’t be until then.)

A call to the local Woodworkers Union (360-426-5541) found nobody there to answer questions regarding their members’ safety or job prospects.

The ultimate question is now: Will OPP remain sitting at the poker table worrying about a joker in the deck, or will it takes its winnings and quit while it’s ahead? Who is OPP’s underwriter? Have they been notified of the spate of incidents for which the insurer might have to write a check? Workers there are advised not to look back–something might be gaining on them.

And then there’s the little matter of a mountain of wood ash on location leaching its dioxin into Shelton’s harbor and Oakland Bay…the most dioxin saturated waters/sediment in the Puget Sound…but nobody’s talking about that and OPP hopes the EPA won’t notice. It certainly would create a problem for any future tenant thinking of leasing the site after OPP clears out.

 

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22 Responses to Shelton’s Olympic Panel Plant Sabotaged After Sale

  1. plywood worker says:

    Hmm… I work at OPP, and while most of this information was written in said letter, the writer of this blog entry has changed certain text within. I feel you are doing a severe injustice to the many employees of this company in the way you have written this up! The policies on cell phone use have not changed, they have always been this way. As well as other fallacies in this article. Don’t spew rhetoric as fact to the public that does not know the whole story…

  2. Katherine says:

    I had no idea. Thanks for the information!

  3. annon says:

    they should simply shut it down…….. Simpson should terminate the lease agreement on the land………. to much liability, for sure we do not want the e p a cruising aroung the waterfront.

  4. therealdeb says:

    the employees would like to continue working for as long as possible, they have families to support and bills to pay and they would like to be alive to do that. the company has not been kind nor respectful to the employees and has made threats, they are not playing nice in the sand box so to speak, that said most of these guys are hard working guys who need the money. the epa knows all about the waterfront, even when simpson owned the mill it was widely known to be contaminated. to the person who said the shut it down, would you care to pay peoples mortgages or rent, make their car payment, provide their children with medical and dental? while this isn’t the best of conditions it is what it is and those guys are working their asses off.

  5. plywood worker says:

    Just what threats has the company made? The company has been very good to us! Yeah, they don’t pay the best, but the benefits package greatly helps in that manner. The ones complaining about this company being bad, are the ones who’ve been caught not following the rules. Plain and simple.

  6. therealdeb says:

    dwight middles announced to all of swing shift that anyone who gets hurt from the time of the sale to closing is fired. that is a threat. he also called a person out on l&i and threatened them. so you are saying all of swing shift is not following the rules? that is a large group of naughty people then, you are also stating that a man who has years on the job is a that also, you know not a thing you are talking about. are you dwight? are you saying an entire shift is lying, oh i am sorry i also heard that from a day shift worker as well. unless you have your head planted up someones ass or are kissing it you don’t know a thing.

    • plywood worker says:

      Really? When was this? Because I work swing shift…

      • therealdeb says:

        i am sure that a vast sampling of the plywood workers on swing shift that i have spoken with are lying, just to get back at opp. don’t think so, just like i know their are a few there who will throw decent honest workers under the bus to cover their mistakes… i.e. lorie dean. or mike

  7. therealdeb says:

    all those guys want to do is work, and do their jobs. makes me sick

  8. BookemDano says:

    It sounds to me that whom ever wrote this article had an ax to grind. Not that most of it is not true but when they mentioned the leaching of dioxin into Oakland Bay and that OPP hopes the EPA doesn’t notice indicates that they would hope the EPA does discover it. But guess what, the EPA is present on the property a lot. And I’m positive that they already know. I wouldn’t doubt whoever wrote this is an employee of OPP or related or in close contact with someone who is. Shoddy journalism to say the least.

    • admin says:

      Dioxin levels of contamination in Shelton’s Harbor sediment exceed 904 ppt when 4 is the maximum allowed under federal law and many experts consider that (4) excessive for the most toxic chemical known to man. It’s long lasting, bio-accumulative, carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunagenic, inhibits learning in children, and remains unmitigated as the most contaminated spot in the Pugent Sound, all courtesy of Simpson and whatever ash OPP has contributed to the mix. If the EPA is on the job, they’ve done nothing to fix the problem, have not implemented a regular testing program, nor have they required those responsible to do so. Shelton is the cancer capital of Washington State and among the unhealthiest counties in it. Much of the harbor’s content ended up there as a result of Simpson flushing the dioxin saturated ash down the City’s sewers! Later, they hauled more to the ‘C’ Street landfill (where it remains unmitigated today) and proceeded to spread it on much of their land around the Matlock area. If there is a discernible ‘bias’ favoring the people and environment, this publication remains unapologetic for it.

  9. shorttimer says:

    Some of these comments seem like they are coming from management. This company does not treat there employees good by any stretch. Well some are but that is a short list. We are always being threatened with being fired yelled at and talked down to.

    • therealdeb says:

      i believe you, all my friends there have told me the same thing. i think “plywood worker” is a management person and edward may just be naive. but i knew years ago all this was coming. simpson won’t be far behind you guys.

  10. Edward says:

    So, shorttimer, because some of us don’t feel the way you do we are all wrong and you are right? A lot of my friends here like the company just fine. Why do you hate it? are you one of the ones always in trouble?

    Most of us just want to work until they are forced to close down by Simpson.

    If you don’t like it here, go somewhere else.

  11. shorttimer says:

    No i am not one of those. Everyone here is here because they need a job you included. The people here are good people but the management is incompetent and lacks any form of common sense.

  12. Edward says:

    Well, I know that my particular group has no ax to grind and we refuse to believe any bad faith on the part of management. Do we like what’s happening no, do we trust each person in management no, but I’m not hanging the whole group of salaried people because I don’t like the way a few talk. If you want to point fingers, what have we shown by putting bolts in panels and bending platens and trying to blow up the jitney shop? We sure as hell haven’t taken the high road.

    How about we just try to make this last as long as possible, I got kids a wife and an ex, I needc to make this last aws long as possible whether I like every single person I work with or for, it doesn’t matter, I need the paycheck and if it gets to where I can’t take it any more than I’ll look somewhere else, I have to at some point anyway, but that’s not Olympic’s fault, we were always going to be kicked out in 2016, Simpson was calling the shots.

  13. Ray Slye says:

    I worked for simpson for over twenty years. While I worked there the pay was fair,and benifits good. I’m now employed somewhere else,and after seeing life away from Simpson I now know how badly we were all treated. Always told we were important then thrown o unemployment at every bump in the road. I should have left long before I did.

    • Ex-plywood worker says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you Ray. I worked for OPP for 15 years before I got smart enough to leave. I left about 2 years after the sale happened. I could see the writing on the wall. I still know a few people that still work there. As far as the management caring about the workers, they never have including when it was Simpson. There are a few guys I worked with that are now : the Management” . It’s really funny because those were the guys that nobody liked to work with because they were lazy and would always be kissing management’s ass. Oh and by the way I was never in trouble in the 15 years I worked there so don’t think I was a trouble maker. As far as Dimwhit Piddles I would not doubt for a second that he would threaten people. I have seen him do it before. Why do you think Simpson “sold” him with the plywood plant.. the didn’t want him!!

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