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Metals players batten down as Sandy rages

Keywords: Tags  Hurricane Sandy, Nucor, ArcelorMittal, Constellium, Metalico, Evraz, Allegheny Technology, U.S. Steel scrapyards

CHICAGO — The metals industry appeared to be well prepared Monday for the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

Ten states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia—had all declared a state of emergency as of Monday afternoon, with many shutting down highways and public transportation.

Nucor Corp., Charlotte, N.C., has shut down its Wallingford, Conn., rebar and wire rod mill as a precaution, president and chief operating officer John Ferriola told AMM Monday. "The only Nucor facility impacted is Connecticut. We shut it down as a precaution, for the safety of our teammates, at 7 p.m. Sunday," he said. "We will see if we can begin operations after the storm. We don’t expect other Nucor facilities to be impacted at all."

Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau said it was temporarily idling its operations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia for the safety of its employees. The company said it plans to restart operations after the storm has passed and the public is able to travel safely on the roads, which is anticipated late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. said it had idled operations at its Fairless galvanizing operation near Philadelphia for the safety of its employees. "After the storm passes, we will monitor events in the area closely to determine when the facility can resume operations," the company said. "All other U. S. Steel operating facilities and business unit locations near the projected path of the storm are monitoring the situation closely and are prepared to take appropriate action as needed."

Evraz Inc. North America shut its Claymont, Del., plate mill. "Everybody is gone. We are all shut down," a security guard told AMM. "When I came into work, they told me we are shut down until Wednesday (morning) and that we would return to a regular schedule on Wednesday." A corporate spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment, but a local scrap broker said Evraz wasn’t accepting scrap shipments Monday.

Carpenter Technology Corp., Wyomissing, Pa., noted on its Facebook page that a high wind warning was in effect for Berks County, Pa., until 9 a.m. Tuesday. "Several shifts in Reading have been impacted by the storm. Employees on the affected shifts have been contacted, and may be contacted again if the situation causes a change to our current plans. All other employees are expected to report for their normal shift, but only if they can travel safely to work," it said.

Bridgeville, Pa.-based Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc.’s top executive said the company was open for business. "We are ... fully operational at the moment with no plans for shutdown. Of course, we are monitoring the situation," chairman, president and chief executive officer Dennis Oates told AMM in an e-mail.

Storm preparations affected scrapyards directly. Sources at Albert Bros. in Waterbury, Conn., Abbey Metals Corp. in Moonachie, N.J., and IntraGalactic Metal Recyclers LLC in Philadelphia said the scrapyards closed at noon Monday.

"We probably won’t be able to open until Wednesday," a source at Abbey Metals told AMM.

Metalico Inc.’s Cranford, N.J., headquarters and its Elizabethtown, N.J., facility were shut down due to evacuations in the state, a company source told AMM, while a source at Hunter Alloys LLC in Boonton, N.J., said the company would stay open Monday until conditions deteriorated. Some scrapyards and service centers in New York didn’t answer phones.

An executive at brokerage firm ProTrade Steel Co. Ltd.’s ProTrade International Transfer Services unit said operations at Virginia Beach and Richmond, Va., trading offices were closed for the duration of the storm.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc. hadn’t shut any of its facilities as of early Monday afternoon, although this could change if the storm worsens, a spokeswoman told AMM. "We are closely monitoring facilities that could be affected by Hurricane Sandy and will take safety precautions as needed in those areas," she said. "The safety of our employees is our top priority."

Century Aluminum Co., Monterey, Calif., which has operations in Hawesville, Ky., and Mount Holly, S.C., hadn’t shut any facilities as a result of the storm, a spokeswoman said.

Scores of service center operations in Connecticut and Massachusetts shut down starting noon Monday, hoping to reopen Tuesday, and many made very early deliveries in order to get their trucks off the roads.

"The highways are shut down (in Connecticut and the governor wants trucks off the road by noon," said Jack Corrigan, president of Charles C. Lewis Co., Springfield, Mass. "We are right on the Connecticut border, so it looks like everyone is shutting down. We’ll open (Tuesday) if we have power."

Bill Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Metals Co. Inc. and president of the Metals Service Center Institute’s New England chapter, said that he and several competitors he spoke with Monday were planning noon closures. "The trucks are definitely getting off the road. The Connecticut steel industry is pretty much shut down. I would think that in Massachusetts we will be following suit, probably a couple hours later."

His company sent everyone home at 1 p.m. "I think everybody is prepared," Sullivan said. "It would be idiotic if you weren’t; people have been warned about this for five days."

Copper & Brass Sales Inc., Wallingford, Conn., also sent employees home, and is "keeping an eye on the storm and on the power situation" to determine "whether we’ll be open (Tuesday)," a spokesman said.

Ellicott City, Md.-based Service Aluminum Corp. closed its offices at noon Monday in anticipation of the storm.

Delaware and Rhode Island highways were shut down by Monday afternoon. Massachusetts highways and bridges were open but travel was discouraged, transportation officials said.

Class I railroads servicing the Eastern Seaboard issued notices to customers saying shipments would be delayed by up to 72 hours, even well west into Ohio.

Norfolk Southern Corp. halted train operations in storm-affected areas for the most part, a spokesman for the Jersey City, N.J.-based railroad said in an e-mail. While the company declined to comment on the shipment of specific commodities, the spokesman added that it had made "extensive preparations ahead of the storm’s arrival."

"The storm has yet to make landfall, but so far we are not getting reports of significant damage to rail infrastructure, including track structure, signal systems, bridges or buildings," a spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads said.

Several metal producers reported they were continuing to operate, including Steel Dynamics Inc., Severstal North America Inc., Allegheny Technology Inc., Constellium Inc. and Commercial Metals Co., but were closely monitoring the storm and such impacts as flooding.

The Washington offices of the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association were closed Monday, but staffers worked from home, according to their media liaisons.

Contributing to this article were Michael Cowden, Daniel Fitzgerald, Lisa Gordon, Catherine Ngai, Thor Schier and Suzy Waite.

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