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Future Of Steel Plant At Sparrows Point In Jeopardy

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hundreds of families in Baltimore County are wondering when they’ll get their next paycheck. The steel mill at Sparrows Point has been sold to a liquidator.

Adam May reports the plant’s future is in jeopardy.

Once the largest producer of steel in the U.S., the furnaces at Sparrows Point are now cold. The company sold to a liquidator for $72 million. Almost 2,000 workers were laid off.

“What made America great after World War II was a large middle class that had a good paying job–a lot in manufacturing–and that’s being lost,” said Joe Rosel.

The president of the Steel Workers’ Union has no idea what will happen to the plant.

A spokesman for the buyer, Hillco, says, “We have no comment on anything regarding the future of the site.”

Hillco recently made headlines when they liquidated Borders bookstores, selling off the chain piece by piece.

“We’re working hard together to preserve steelmaking at Sparrows Point. We don’t feel this is over yet,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Union leaders blame cheaper steel from overseas and gridlock in Washington, D.C.

“To me, this is a symptom of [how] America lets itself decline,” Rosel said.

Some economists say the steel industry would rebound if crumbling roads, aging bridges and water systems were repaired.

“Every steel mill in the country would be running if the federal government would make an effort to rebuild the infrastructure that needs to be done,” Rosel said.

A task group is looking at new options for the site, including an expanded port, commercial and residential zones.

“We’re not gonna let that be an end of an era. In Baltimore County, we’re looking at the whole peninsula to see how we can bring jobs to the area,” Kamenetz said.

But for now, the jobs are leaving and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever come back.

This liquidation sale still needs to be approved by bankruptcy court. At least two other steel companies looked at the property but they didn’t make an offer.

Until a few weeks ago, Sparrows Point made four percent of steel in the U.S.

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