Miller-Tumwater expansion reported on hold

Union concerned about future without Miller, Miller Lite in mix

Mar 16, 2000 - A battle over wastewater may be the reason that Miller Brewing Co. reportedly suspended its plans to expand the former Pabst Brewery in Tumwater, Wash.


Miller previously announced it would increase production from about 1 million barrels of beer a year to 2.5 million barrels. It acquired the plant last year as part of a three-way deal involving Stroh, Pabst and Miller. Miller has been using the Tumwater plant to brew the brands it acquired and contract beers, but would add production of Miller and Miller Lite with the expansion.

"It's a major setback in what we would have hoped would have been a smooth transition to increased volume," said Owen Linch, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 378 in Olympia. Miller needs to brew its own brands for the brewery, long the home of Olympia beer, to be stable over the long term, he said.

Miller officials have not confirmed the expansion is on hold. The regional sewer authority and Miller are negotiating over how much the brewery should pay for previous treatment plant upgrades. Pabst left behind a $4 million bill from when it owned the brewery. The sewer authority also is concerned about if it can keep up with increased production by Miller.

Miller night solve the problem by building its own treatment plant. The state Department of Ecology confirmed that the company has inquired about that.

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