Weyerhaeuser ( WY) shuttered a veneer and plywood facility in Wright City, Okla., affecting 250 workers.

The Federal Way, Wash., lumberjack said the plywood lay-up operation has been closed since Aug. 29, following a structural collapse of the building housing the plywood presses. In the interim the mill began making veneer and landscape timbers only. Some 100 plywood employees were already on layoff.

Following engineering studies, and as part of a strategic review of the company's plywood business, the company chose to use other facilities elsewhere in the Weyerhaeuser system to meet customer demand and to replace Wright City's veneer and plywood production.

"Today's announcement is part of the ongoing effort to strengthen Weyerhaeuser's overall portfolio to enhance shareholder value," said CEO Steven R. Rogel. "As part of an ongoing strategic review of our businesses and against the backdrop of industry-wide market challenges, we have determined that this mill cannot be made economically sustainable.

"The closure of a mill is a difficult decision, but the reality of difficult markets requires that we allocate our capital with great prudence," Rogel said. "Weyerhaeuser's employees work diligently to make our mills competitive and today's announcement is a harsh reflection of the challenging market conditions we face. We recognize the effect of this closure on the people of Southeast Oklahoma, and we will do our best to work with state and local leaders to assist in the transition."

The Wright City plywood plant, started in 1972, was part of a multi-product wood products complex. Its estimated annual production capacity was 250 million square feet (3/8" basis) of softwood plywood. Other Weyerhaeuser pine plywood facilities are located in Pine Hill, Ala., Mountain Pine, Ark., and Dodson and Zwolle, La.

Weyerhaeuser continues significant operations in Oklahoma, with one of the South's largest softwood lumber mills at Wright City, a containerboard mill and common-carrier railroad at Valliant, and a containerboard packaging plant and building materials distribution center in Oklahoma City. The company also owns and manages more than 500,000 acres of commercial timberland in the state.

Earlier this month Weyerhaeuser announced the indefinite closure of the Prince Albert pulp and paper facility in Saskatchewan due to fundamental challenges in the uncoated free-sheet paper and pulp markets, including excess capacity, declining demand, mounting inventories and weak prices. Last Friday the company announced the permanent closure of a pulp mill and large-log sawmill in Washington state.

On Monday, Weyerhaeuser was ready to open at $62.11.

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