UPDATED: Paper mill in Powell River affected by computer virus

Paper Excellence working to quarantine the infection

Powell River’s paper mill has been infected by a virus.

Graham Kissack, vice president of environment, health, safety and communications with Paper Excellence Canada, said the company became aware early on Wednesday, February 19, that there had been an infection of a virus within the Paper Excellence organization.

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“What we have been doing is working to quarantine those sites and understand what the impacts are and then move towards undertaking cleanup of those infections,” said Kissack. According to a media release, in the morning of February 19, Paper Excellence Canada became aware that some of its IT systems had been affected by malware. The event has impacted the company’s ability to utilize its communications as well as certain production capabilities, the media release stated.

The incident has been confined to Paper Excellence’s corporate office in Richmond and its manufacturing locations at Crofton, Howe Sound, Port Alberni and Powell River. Paper production at Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River has been impacted, according to the media release.

As a result, there is the possibility that certain product deliveries may be impacted as Paper Excellence works to resolve this issue, according to the media release. The IT systems at each of the company’s facilities have been isolated.

Work is currently underway to assess the scope and level of the impact and appropriate next steps to return to full production, according to the media release. The company has engaged external advisors to assist in the investigation.

As more information becomes available, the company will provide regular updates via its website.

At the Thursday, February 20, City of Powell River council meeting, mayor Dave Formosa said he had spoken with Paper Excellence vice president of operations Stew Gibson, who indicated that the Powell River mill is down due to a cyber attack on the software.

“Their [Powell River] mill is totally down, the Port Alberni mill is down, North Cowichan kraft mill is working because it’s less complicated software, I understand, and their Howe Sound mill is partially operating,” said Formosa. “They said it’s not a matter of days but a matter of weeks before they can be up and running again.”

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