ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Thursday marks the end of an era for Baltimore. The steel operation which once employed 30,000 people will now meet the wrecking ball.
Kai Jackson has more on those who built their lives in Sparrows Point and now have to look elsewhere.
The Sparrows Point steel mill, internationally known and locally an iconic factory, will be demolished.
“A century of steelmaking as we know it has come to an end,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Hilco Industrial, the owner of the plant, says despite a lengthy effort, they couldn’t find a buyer interested in steelmaking. Charlotte-based steelmaker Nucor purchased the Cold Mill complex but plans to break it up.
“To me, this is the height of vulture capitalism. We wind up with a liquidator buying the plant,” said union worker Joe Rosel.
In its heyday as Bethlehem Steel, it was the largest steel mill in the world, employing 30,000 people in the 20th century. It manufactured the steel for infrastructure and wars, an industry that helped America and the world grow and provided generations of Marylanders with jobs and a livelihood.
From the floor of the US Senate, Senator Barbara Mikulski, whose own family members worked there, explained what happened to the industry.
“We looked the other way when foreign imports began to drive down our prices and drive down our steel mills,” Mikulski said.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Sparrows Point officials told him every remaining asset of the old steel plant will be sold off. What’s left of the structure will be brought to the ground. It’s more than the end of an era, it’s the end of a way of life in Maryland.
“Once the buyers were confirmed, we knew who they were. They weren’t who we wanted,” Kamenetz said.
Governor Martin O’Malley also expressed disappointment that no buyer was found to save the plant.