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Metals firms weather storm, assess damage

Keywords: Tags  Hurricane, flooding, road closures, bridge closures, Metals USA Holding, Lourenco Goncalves, U.S> Steel, Fairless Gerdau Long Steel


CHICAGO — Metals companies spent Tuesday assessing the impact of former Hurricane Sandy, which left a wide swath of flooding, power outages and road and bridge closures along much of the East Coast.

Many processing and distribution facilities remained closed Tuesday, while others said they planned to reopen Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday after reviewing the damage. Several parts of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut reported severe disruptions to telephone and electric service Tuesday, while a number of metal companies reported staff shortages.

Metals USA Holdings Corp., which operates a number of East Coast service centers, suffered minor damage at several locations "in the path of Sandy," chairman, president and chief executive officer Lourenco Goncalves told AMM, noting that crews were on site Tuesday cleaning up debris.

"The biggest problem is with transportation systems, which are in disarray. We are unable to ship material from all locations at our leisure. We have to take into consideration the viability of the roads and the receiving customers," Goncalves said.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp., which said Monday it had idled operations at its Fairless galvanizing operation near Philadelphia (amm.com, Oct. 29), told AMM that the facility appeared to weather the storm unscathed and was expected to reopen sometime Tuesday.

"So far, no U.S. Steel facilities have sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy," a company spokeswoman said. "We will continue to monitor conditions at all of our operating facilities and business unit locations that were in or near the storm’s path."

Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America, which temporarily idled its operations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia for the safety of its employees, said Tuesday it was "very fortunate" to have weathered the storm without any major damage to its facilities.

"The area surrounding the Sayreville mill in New Jersey does not have power (but) as soon as power is restored and the roads are safe to travel, the mill will be back in operation," a spokeswoman said. Gerdau’s Petersburg mill in Virginia is operating and other Gerdau locations in the Northeast will be operating by Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday, she added

AK Steel Holdings Corp., ArcelorMittal USA Inc., Commercial Metals Co. (CMC), Evraz Inc. North America and Nucor Corp. could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the status of their East Coast operations.

Structural steel service center InfraMetals said its Connecticut and Virginia locations were "100 percent operational" Tuesday as power was restored, even though president Mark Haight reported that "things were bad, especially along the shoreline" in and around Baltimore. "We didn’t ship anything yesterday or today but we’ll be back in full force on Wednesday," Haight said of its Baltimore location.

Earle M. Jorgensen Co. territory manager Bill Adams said the specialty tube and bar distributor "dodged a bullet" because its Boston and Philadelphia plants were up and running with no damage. "Our Connecticut location is out of power, but should be back soon. Disruption has been minimal, considering the size and intensity of the storm."

There was no answer at O’Neal Flat Rolled Metals’ Monroe Township, N.J., warehouse or at the Fort Lee, N.J.-based marketing and distribution center of CMC. An automated voice message at stainless distributor Penn Stainless Products Inc., Quakertown, Pa., said the company would reopen Wednesday.

A source told AMM that Camden, N.J.-based secondary aluminum producer State Metal Industries Inc. drained its furnaces Sunday in expectation of storm-related issues and was closed Monday and Tuesday, but president Mike Dorfman said Tuesday that the company had sustained "very little damage" and would reopen Wednesday.

The Cranford, N.J., headquarters of recycler Metalico Inc. did not answer calls for comment, although a company source said he expected the office to remain closed through Tuesday.

One aluminum alloy producer said that he had heard deliveries out of London Metal Exchange warehouses in Baltimore were delayed because of the storm.

Meanwhile, Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. has not yet had the chance to inspect every facility, chairman and chief executive officer David H. Hannah told AMM Tuesday, noting that early indications suggested little impact. "Our facilities in the affected areas are all closed down both yesterday and today. I’m not aware of any damage to our facilities at this time," he said.

Olympic Steel Inc.’s Milford, Conn., and Chambersburg, Pa., facilities were closed Tuesday as a result of mandates to keep non-emergency vehicles off the roads, but the facilities reported no storm damage. "We expect to be back at work (Wednesday), depending on the restoration of power in Connecticut," president and chief operating officer David Wolfort said.

Vineland, N.J.-based Giordano’s Recycling was open Tuesday, although the surrounding area is still in a state of emergency. Operations manager Nick Giordano said the closure of Newark piers and flood damage to local railroads were likely to have an impact on local freight operations.

The office of specialty alloy producer Aerodyne Alloys LLC, South Windsor, Conn., also was closed Tuesday because "all the roads are closed," but a spokeswoman said the service center is set to reopen Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Charles C. Lewis Co. in Springfield, Mass., resumed shipping steel Tuesday as it retained power. "We will make up for shipments lost (Monday)," president Jack Corrigan said.

A source at Beachwood, Ohio-based Aleris International Inc. said the company sent staff home early on Monday in North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia. "All plants and employees fared very well. All safe and no damage to speak of. Our facilities in West Virginia are catching a walloping of snow, but everyone is safe," he said in an e-mail.

Daniel Fitzgerald and Thorsten Schier contributed to this article.


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