Key part of Sparrows Point to be sold and moved

Sparrows Point 1954

Sparrows Point in its heyday in 1954 when it employed 30,000 workers.

Photo by: Bethlehem STeel Corp

In a huge blow to any attempt to restart the Sparrows Point mill, a steel group says it has purchased a key part of the Baltimore County facility – and intends to move the equipment to its southern steel facilities.

“We acquired pieces of equipment to enhance existing operations at our four cold mills,” John Ferriola, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp., told trade journal American Metal Market.

He was referring to the New Cold Mill (NCM), opened in 1999 and considered the most modern and profitable part of the complex.

The Nucor purchase breaks up a core finishing operation at Sparrows Point and will make it nearly impossible to sell the Baltimore County mill to a producer – or for the mill ever to manufacture steel again.

Not a Surprise

While not unexpected – The Brew has previously reported that the dismantlement of Sparrows was the most likely scenario following last August’s bankruptcy sale to the Hilco Group – Nucor’s purchase of parts of the annealing furnace, tandem mill and pickler extinguishes the hopes of United Steelworkers Local 9477 for furnace fires to return.

Last month, 9477 president Joe Rosel told a union membership meeting that two companies were willing to purchase Sparrows Point from Hilco and restart steel operations in the spring of 2013. He suggested that about 1,000 union members would return to work.

In a previous interview, Rosel said, “Plan A is to sell the plant to a strategic steelmaker to get people back to work.”

Union sources say Sherman Metals, an Illinois steelmaker, was one of the companies that had approached Hilco about buying the facility.

Bedrock of Baltimore

The world’s one-time largest steel mill – and a bedrock of Baltimore’s manfacturing economy – stopped operations last June following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of its parent RG Steel. The plant employed about 1,600 union workers and about 500 white-collar and contract employees.

Nearly the entire workforce has been idled and Hilco, an industrial liquidating company, has no legal obligations to the union or to restart operations.

Hilco did put out an offer for the sale of all or parts of the steel mill, with bids due on December 21.

In the meantime, the company has arranged for the sale of a great deal of mobile and machine equipment at the plant, including railroad locomotives, dump trucks, tractors, truck cranes, slab carriers and “torpedo” railcars used to carry molten iron.

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  • RiotAct66

    Walter is our only hope now……

  • H S

    Was there ever any doubt that this would be the outcome? Hell, ELT/Hilco already had all the slab and coil haulers entered into a separate auction in January, indicating that SP was done and done. The Port Administration of Maryland and the real estate developers who pull their strings have won.

  • dunfor

    Hey Doc…. whats the word on mingo and frontier?????

  • Dr. Raymond Boothe

    Right now Frontier Industrial is still committed to restart the EAF portion of the Mingo Junction Plant. They stated earlier this month that they were working to get the $80 million in financing that is needed for a restart. They are also looking at using part of the old Mingo Plant to build a natural gas delivery port. There we no definite plans to restart the blast furnace. Right now the steel operation looks like the Concast EAF, caster and the 80″ mill. 

    Many of the very old steel buildings at Mingo Junction (on the north end) will be scrapped. They are not part of the Mingo Junction EAF restart plans.

    The piecemeal selling of the cold mill is right in line in the Nucor style. As I mentioned earlier, Nucor would never operate the cold mill as a whole in Baltimore. Their primary plants are mainly in the Southern “right-to-work” states, and they would never want to deal with a historically hostitle union. You can see Hilco’s attitude towards selling off properties. Whatever they can sell, they will sell it-in whole or pieces. In this case they will ship out the parts that Nucor wants and what that remains will be a cannibalized mill in a building that will most likely be scrapped. 

    With the SP profit generator sold, the idea of a startup grows even less likely. The idea to restart L furnace and make pig iron, slabs and hot rolled just is not financially viable. With the sale of a lot of the mobile equipment, the movement toward an industrial park or enhanced port facilty looms larger every day.

  • IronworkerSP

     Well it looks like Chuck Bradford and Dr. Ray called the shots this summer that NUCOR would pack up the NCM and cart it off and then rubbed salt in our wounds by saying almost nothing else has any value down at Sparrows Point.  
    The REAL reason the Point is going to be scrapped out and dozed level is because something has MORE value then steel making does in Baltimore and that something is 3,000 acres of prime Chesapeake Bay waterfront real estate and we all know that waterfront property near Baltimore goes magically from dump to Gold Coast as soon as the developer’s get their hands on it. Admittedly Hilco was smart partnering with ETL who are the best in the world when it comes to cleaning up massive polluted industrial sites and quickly turning them around for reuse. Their track record and that of their scrapping contractor is very impressive. We all saw the good job the demo guy did with the Baltimore GM plant, these guys do not fool around.
    Now it looks like the door is wide open for the new super-sized Panama Canal ships, the Cruise ships, the NASCAR Track, the Casinos, and the Under Armor type of businesses the younger generation are planning for Sparrows Point. The same great waterfront location that made placing a steel mill on the site attractive 120 years ago is now more attractive and valuable as a marine terminal and Yuppie Waterside Dreamworks. From Steel Factory to Cheesecake Factory – who would have ever thought it would happen in our lifetime? I still cannot believe it even though it has hit me square in the face!

  • exspworker

     I only hope that Omally and Kamenetz take into consideration the amount of older employees that were displaced when this deal was signed off on.
    The young guys are going to do all right with training and a fresh start. their situation should be only temporary.
    My concern is for the older employees that are short of retirement. Where does a person in their late 50’s or early 60’s go? Who hires them? Any thoughts on this from our politicians? Any help?
     Sparrows will once again provide jobs  and be a major employer in Maryland although not by producing steel. I only hope that local business’s can provide a place for the older employees that are still productive and have a lot to offer any company.
    Good luck to all!

    • RiotAct66

       If the people in their 50’s and 60’s that have already had the privilege of working 30+ years did not save/invest in their future…….well….shame on them.  I don’t feel sorry for those kind.
      I feel sorry for the younger generation that will never know what it is like to get right out of high school (or be a high school drop out) and go right into the mill with a good paying job with good benefits.

      • IronworkerSP

        The kids in Baltimore County schools today can read better in the third grade then we could in the 12th grade. They are going to do fine with the good preparation they are now getting in our modern schools.  Why do you want your kids future to be limited to a lifetime of shoveling slag?  Life has “benefits”  other then the long coffee breaks and filing unnecessary grievances with the shop steward.

    • IronworkerSP

      Now that’s is over, they should give our all older workers first shot in the Point’s demo and clean-up. They say this should provide several years of paychecks. Then the older workers can collect pensions and Social Security checks and go out to pasture with their bills paid. Mr. O’Malley and Kamenetz, are offering great retraining  (see the new Dundalk Eagle), but the Eagle says we must all sign up now as the education benefit offer will not last forever. The younger guys should get their ass in gear now as I do not want to hear them bitch later because they missed the good opportunity the elected VIP’s are offering.  

      You are right SPworker,  if we can bridge this readjustment period until the Port and the new businesses can get set up our younger workers and kids are going to have a much better work place than we had to endure. I would rather have my kids eat lunch at the Cheesecake Factory or Harris Tweeter than at Tony’s Lunch and Roach Wagon like we had to do.

      • exspworker

         To anyone who thinks that there are not opportunities out there for you then you have already shot yourself in the foot.
        You need to see what TAA?TRA has to offer and take full advantage of it A.S.A.P.
        As you said Ironworker, we had to work in some terrible conditions to earn our living and I agree that I would never want my kids to have to rely on that type of work to provide for their families.
        There is a lot out there with the right training. The young are much better off than we are in that respect.
        But until everyone that is displaced realizes that they are in control of their future and not RG Steal, then they can never move forward and get back on their feet.

  • ushanellore

    This is a tragedy.  I was in San Francisco recently.  On the Golden Gate bridge, on an unusually clear day.  The bridge glowed red under a clear blue sky and the bay sparkled below.  It was magnificent and I walked the length of the bridge.  At one place where there was a plaque for the dedication of the bridge, I paused to read its illustrious history and there I saw what broke my heart.  Guess where the steel for that bridge came from?  From Beth Steel.  How the wheels of fortune turn and how the mighty fall!  We are ephemeral creatures and the empires we build are just as susceptible to crumbling as we ourselves.  I take no comfort in this thought, but to dismantle this manufacturing giant piece by piece to be subsumed by another steel mill is sacrilegious.      

  • cwals99

    Thanks to Ironworker who understands that this outcome was always the goal.  This area was slated back in the 1980s Master Plan to become affluent waterfront property so we know the deals made to restart it were all a ploy.  It successfully moves what will become valuable waterfront property for pennies on the dollar.  Watch as the same pols involved in the original scheme work to make the public pay for the cleanup of the soil as well, not the new land owners.

    This was clearly a pay-to-play and as such can be prosecuted and damages won for the steel workers.  They need to demand pension and benefits be met as part of this action.  We need to look at how these pensions were invested right at the time of the 2008 collapse as these pensions, public and private were thrown into the riskiest of stocks to keep the economy from bottoming.  You can look at the Baltimore and Maryland public pension accounts to see that move from safe bond investments to high-risk stock investments just as the economy was to crash.  All of this is legal grounds for all pension funds to bring the money back to pension-holders.  The lawsuits in court now are fighting for shareholders of private stock, but you are not seeing lawsuits as much for public and private pensions!  Your politician should be shouting loudly and strongly for Attorney General Gansler to take these pension cases to court!!!

  • Nashorn

    Today’s Baltimore Sun reports from a Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz press conference (also today):

    Kamenetz said it is now clear that the steelworkers’  jobs will not return “in the form that they knew it.” He said officials of co-owner Hilco Trading “have indicated that they are going to liquidate every remaining asset and bring the structure down to the ground.”

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    The USW worked hard to keep the industrialists who were willing to invest in the Sparrows Point plant out of the plant. There were only a few workers who saw through the Union rhetoric and realized that the the policies and decisions of the USW would send them directly to the unemployment line. Although these decisions were made at the district level by Dave McCall and those above him, local Union leaders were partly complicit by their inaction; at the very least, they should have put the rhetoric aside and informed the workers that the refusal to work with legitimate owners would eventually cost them their jobs. It is poetic justice that the best assets at Sparrows Point will now be used to employ non-Union steelworkers.

  • unioncaught

    I wonder if the 6 paid union reps of 9477 will be working for the international in the near future.

    • bocephusjr

      no ciirri they will be working for the state of maryland like you…!!!@

  • IronworkerSP

    And George the steel in the Golden Gate Bridge was not made at Sparrows, we never made wide flange,  just bull $hi! from Walter and the old Beth Steel PR department 

  • My2Cents69

    Well… whats next?  I guess the next move would be for the politicians to find a way to regulate Johns Hopkins out of business or force them to move out of the area. Don’t say it cannot happen. Nobody would have thought that Beth Steel and others would ever close as well. The goal of this NEW NORMAL is to force all people to have the government take care of all of your needs. You no longer have the RIGHT  to work to better yourself and your family. As we move towards more unemployment and free healthcare, the people who are dependent on these things will continue to vote themselves a raise every election. If you like the free stuff and you’re one of these people, then you have no idea what America was started for in the first place. We are Capitalists, not Comunists!!! Get the point already.

    I love whenever people here think that you can just go back to school and learn something and that will somehow get you a job. WHERE???  There are more and more people getting out of college with good degrees that end up having to take a low paying management job at Walmart or somwhere like it cause these, so called, good jobs don’t exist anymore. How are you going to go back to school anyways? Who’s gonna pay your ever rising bills while you’re enrolled? After you get out, where can you go to make money to pay your bills AND YOUR EVER RISING STUDENT LOAN?  That’s even if you can get a student loan these days cause they aren’t lending like they used to. They are not lending because they understand that the risks are too high that the loans are not gonna get paid because they (the banks) know that there aren’t enough jobs out there too!!!

  • My2Cents69

    I agree with exspworker.  There are good jobs out there. So as soon as you go and get your training, move away from Baltimore – the place where it costs too much to live and where companies go to die !

  • exspworker

     Think about this. Since starting to work I and many of you have seen the demise of many local business’s.
    Bendix, Carling brewery, Western Electric, Westinghouse, GM. Eastern Stainless, Arco Steel, Martin Marietta, Allied Chemical, FMC, Signode, Thompson, both the Key Highway and Sparrows Point Ship yards, the Can company’s, and many other smaller supporting business’s.
    And now Sparrows Point!
     All this just from Baltimore in the last 25-30 years.
     And in the State of Maryland which by the way competes with a few of the other States in this Country for the highest tax rates.
    This is why this Country is having to rely on handouts. We are getting to the point where we do not have the ability to support our economy or ourselves.
    Thanks to all the politicians and large business’s who sold this Country out for their own  personal profit. You have turned a Country that was self sufficient into a Country that buy’s instead of manufactures for itself!

  • George Lopez

    The Steelworkers Union wasn’t involved with Hostess. That was the Baker’s Union. Those salaries aren’t all that great for what they do.

  • unioncaught

    Local union President Joe Rosel told the Baltimore Sun the he vows to organize a protest. The only protest the members of the union want is against their own union. We have been asking to hold a protest for months. The 6 paid union reps ignored our demands while they all collected a big paycheck. The only people that will do a protest with Rosel is the ones that are paid.

    • bocephusjr

      the main reason that the union has failed because they have idiot members like you that constantly beat them down and dont have a clue about what they are talking about.  You were probably one of those that were on worker’s copm more than they worked you worthless SOB

      • unioncaught

        The only time anyone at Sparrows Point knew there was a union was when they took our dues money. The union reps never worked inside the mills. The only time anyone saw a union rep was during election time.

        • bocephusjr

          I understand why you feel that way about cirri and blackburn. All mouth no action.  Sucked the blood and whatever out of the company andthe union and thenQUIT!!!  Can you believe it!!! Then things got tough cirri resigns.  Now hes got a STATE job with health care benefits, collected his steelworkers trust benefit.. oy if he didnt Fthe membership.  Everybody knows he didnt have any skills to get that job.  Another under the table JOB or hand job!!!!

  • Dr. Raymond B

    With all the money Frontier has put into restarting Mingo so far it is more likely than not it will get a restart. They stated that with the repairs, acquiring raw materials, employees and building a product base, it would take at least 8-9 months after financing. The States of Ohio and West Virginia are already involved along with private finance.

    They wish to run the EAF, Con-Caster and 80″ mill. This is why the possibility of a restart is there because the equipment is more modern than SP’s. Even if the attempt to restart fails, Frontier will not loose any money in the deal.

    Dr. Raymond Boothe

    • RiotAct66

       What about the law of supply and demand? Is the demand out there so high that re-starting Mingo is necessary to quench the demand??……..or, is the supply out there just fine right now for the demand?

  • IronworkerSP

    Hey bubobotha they are already talking about a Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks at the Point too, to go along with the Casinos like they just built in Arundel Mills and I was not impressed, but a German Brew Pub at the Point has my vote. Same thing has happened in Bethlehem, PA as in Pittsburgh but it takes the developers about 8 to 10 years for them go from heavy manufacturing to gentrification and I do not have the time to hang around.

     The Longshoremen will fit right in at Sparrows Point with all of the high priced dinning planned because they are used to eating lunch at the Yuppie joints like the Silo Point Wine Bar and Harris Tweeter in South Locust Point. It’s no wonder so many guys have gotten jobs already with the Port! Looks like its time to put down the Natty Boh and Bud Lite and brush up on the Micro Brews?  

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