Kamenetz Hopes Steel Production to Resume at Mill

Officials are hopeful that a buyer will come forward with the intent to produce steel, as opposed to dismantling the Sparrows Point plant.

Despite news that RG Steel's Sparrows Point plant has been sold to a liquidator, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz remains hopeful that steel production will resume at the storied mill.

"We believe that the core steel assets of RG Steel Sparrows Point continue to make this a viable business proposition," Kamenetz said in a statement issued Thursday.  "A savvy buyer with access to the raw materials of steelmaking will find this an attractive investment, with a premiere location and a talented workforce ready to get the job done."

While Wednesday's auction sale of the local plant has been cloaked in mystery, reports state that Hilco Industrial, a company with a history of breaking down and liquidating failed manufacturing plants, bought the Sparrows Point facility for $72 million.

"Information about the sale is very hard to come by," county spokeswoman Frinda Cohen said Thursday. "These are very tense times—you can hear the frustration in people's voices, and the not knowing is the most difficult thing."

Union leaders are also hopeful that the plant will once again produce steel.

"We've been making steel here for 120 years, and we're not giving up," Joe Rosel, president of United Steelworkers International Local 9477, said in the statement. "We're still going to fight to find an operator for this plant. We are grateful for all of the support Baltimore County is giving our workers."

RG Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in May, causing the sale of its three plants in Sparrows Point; Warren, Ohio; and Wheeling, W.Va.

Even though no steel producers attended the New York auction that sold off RG's assets, Cohen said it is still possible that a company could come forward to purchase the plant with the intent to keep it in production.

Hilco officials have said they would delay any final liquidation for a little while to see if another buyer can be found, Cohen said.

Kamenetz also announced the creation of a new steelworkers career program that will allow laid-off steelworkers the opportunity to acquire new skills or build on existing ones; attain new professional certification; and receive re-employment assistance.

The new program will be funded through a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation.

The Baltimore County Council voted to accept the grant at its Aug. 6 meeting.

kevin August 10, 2012 at 11:09 PM
If you google there site you will see they just handled the auction of the remaining assets of Solyundra July 25th. This company does not keep companies together .However heard something about them buying it for another company which might be hopeful. That said one thing they have always had is a talented workforce at the Point .I'm praying that they take advantage of the retraining programs offered. Also Baltimore County think outside of the box what else could be put there that could employ the workforce?It has one thing you can't take away location,location,location. Port,already zoned industrial,railways,shipping excellent workforce.
george August 11, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Bring new heavy industry to the area and expand the Port's operations. What a good idea! Not!
Joe Dolan August 11, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Kamenetz is a hoot. He cares little for the Point. As far as retraining - once retrained where are they going to find a job? Unemployment is high and is expected to stay that way for years and maybe longer if the current president has his way. George, the east side is viewed as the armpit of the county. If the point goes there will be other industries to fill the void. We need trash transfer stations, incinerators, landfills, truck terminals, and the like. Think they are going to Towson? Guess again. You wanted it gone and it may be but the heavy industry zoning is valuable and it ain't going nowhere.
charles richardson August 11, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Joe, that's might be the most ridiculous comment on this post. You have 2,000 citizens out of work and "he cares little". Please explain the post. What executive anywhere wants their people out of work and a steel mill shut down. That's just plain ignorant.I could care less if it's Ehrlich, O'Malley, Kamenetz, Bartenfelder, doesn't matter, no one wants unemployment. The trickle down devastation is horrible as well. Every Marylander want the plant to survive and thrive.
Eastsider August 11, 2012 at 05:26 PM
It’s time for the public and politicians to face the facts the steel plant at Sparrows Point is DEAD. By getting another steel maker to purchase the property it would only end up in failure AGAIN. Let’s move forward clean up the site and turn it in to something that will bring jobs to the area.
john August 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM
What type of jobs? Incinerators, landfills, truck terminals? No way!
Eastsider August 11, 2012 at 07:21 PM
John, Then what do you suggest? If another steel company comes in good chances it will fail like the rest of them since Beth Steel. The property is a perfect place for the LNG plant, ship repairs and extension to the port of Baltimore.
Kenny L. August 12, 2012 at 07:54 AM
Isn't this the same Kamenetz who said that the Sparrows Point needs to be repurposed back in May? Kamenetz is just laying the groundwork for the campaign financing for his next election by sticking to the state and federal script. The plant sold for $72M with over $200M in inventory on the ground at SP, so it should be obvious the fix is in. Several industry analysts have said it's ridiculous that no steel producers bid, considering the fire sale price they could have had. The rumor is that either the state and/or the feds approached each steel producer that was interested in bidding and threatened that if they bought the plant, they would be forced to perform the environmental cleanup. Thus, only liquidators bid (who will be given a pass on the cleanup) and the skids are greased to hand off the property to their developer buddies. BTW, SP went bankrupt due to its inability to obtain a long term ore contract and due to the outrageous energy costs from Constellation.
Voice of Reason August 12, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Eastsider sounds very much like a politician who has a bid in to scrap the place and put up water front properties. Screw the 2000 some employees of the plant who they, their families and neighboring businesses depend largely on that companies survival. I'm sick of greedy corporate heads and careless politicians. It's goin to be the death of great nations. Haven't you heard? Every great empire falls. And what will you do then. As for Joe Dolan - your comment about president Obama has got to be one of the most ignorant one yet. What about the MASS devestation caused under bush's less that intelligence reign.
John T. August 12, 2012 at 03:20 PM
How many special programs for laid off steelworkers are there now? It seems our politicians are trampling over eachother to offer some other special with their name all over it. Are other non-union laid off workers in the state able to benefit from these programs? I suspect not, but these people are not represented by a union that throws money at our politicians. Our elected officials care as far as the $$$!
Eastsider August 12, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Voice of reason, So what would your plan be? Sink some type of stimulus money into a failing business? We have done this countless times and look at the end results, FAILURE. If this property was to change over to something else (extension of the port, light industry) don’t you think jobs would be created? Don’t you think if the property was turned over the community would thrive? We had the opportunity to have a LNG plant and the public rejected that. How many jobs were lost due to that? Everyone needs to face it the Point is DEAD. In its hay day the Point had 30,000 plus jobs today 2000 that should be your sign. Let’s move forward and put down this old horse. And with the Point closing say good bye to the poor air quality it produced. Maybe the cancer rate around here will drop a little. Finally I wish I was a politician I could tell lies and what you want to hear for a few years then collect a nice pension and life benefits.
Bill August 12, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Port expansion will come with costs the community might not want to pay. It's all about the water, Eastsider.
Eastsider August 12, 2012 at 04:43 PM
What cost?
Buzz Beeler August 12, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I had suggested the industry of ship breaking when I ran for office. Most of it is done overseas and not so astute to the environment andf the safety of the workers. There is plenty of work and few companies in this country to do it as this link illustrates. http://clui.org/newsletter/spring-2010/american-ship-breaking
Raeanne Lange August 13, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Get rid of the damn union that sold you out to begin with!
Kenny L. August 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM
The plan is easy and viable, only capital intensive: 1. Add an EAF to run in parallel with L furnace. This would cover the full spectrum of the steel market. 2. Obtain long term ore contracts to match those of SPs competitors. 3. Allow the LNG terminal and build a peaking power facility to reduce the outrageous cost of buying energy from Constellation. If you do those things, you've leveled the playing field and the return on investment will be seen almost immediately. On the other hand, I really wouldn't mind seeing all manufacturing pull out of MD and go somewhere that really deserves the benefit to their economy. Baltimore has become a service economy catering to federal workers and their associated contractors. Currently, the government pays well and often, so MD feels comfortable kissing off blue collar jobs. Let them--civil service traditionally works in waves and when the pendulum swings the other way, places like White Marsh and Cockeysville will go the way of Owings Mills in the '90s.


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