Author Topic: A question  (Read 798 times)

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Tom Rubillo

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A question
« on: January 24, 2022, 10:04:05 PM »
If memory serves me, Liberty Steel and the Steelworkers Union were united in their request that the channel connecting the Ports Authority docks and the Intercoastal Waterway be dredged so that the mill could economically ship its finished product to by barge to Wilmington and/or Charleston for transshipment to customers elsewhere.  Transport by truck or rail was said to be too costly, rendering the mill unprofitable. 

Assuming my memory is connect, then how does the math work when adding the cost of transshipment of billets from Peoria, llinois to Georgetown, South Carolina by rail so that they can be rolled into wire here ultimately reduce costs low enough so that selling steel wire rolled in Georgetown then becomes profitable to Liberty?   There's a rolling mill in Peoria, isn't there?  Why not just make the wire there and save the cost of shipping billets all the way to Georgetown?  Either that, why not simply disassemble the rolling mill and pay the railroad the one time cost to move the rolling mill equipment from Georgetown to Peoria rather than paying, over and over again, freight charges to ship billets from Peoria to Georgetown?  At some point, the cost of dismantling the rolling mill, its shipment and reassembly would add up to less than the continuous, on-going and ever mounting bills from the railroad for shipping tons and tons and tons and megatons of billets to Georgetown, plus the cost of shipping to customers around the country from the East Coast rather than from the middle of the country, will add up to lots more, cutting deeply into profits, won't it? 

I hope that somebody at Liberty has done the math here.  I'm certain that (a) Georgetown County would cooperate with Liberty to provide it with more than ample space at the county's industrial park to move the equipment from the rolling mill there is continued shipment of billets from Illinois to SC is, in fact, a good, long term business plan.  Liberty could likely work a deal with the city and/or county to swap land with the county for the mill property in town, avoiding legal liability for the costs of demolition and environmental clean-up. A simple hold harmless agreement would ensure that.  EPA's Superfund won't pursue those costs from local government -- it won't, that is, if Senators Graham and Scott have any clout in Washington. 

The jobs at the rolling mill are important.  If the partial reopening of the mill is something more than a ruse to delay the change in the zoning law, there's a way  to work things  out that is profitable and beneficial to Liberty, good for the Steelworkers and good for the City of Georgetown and Georgetown County.  If reopening is just a ruse === well, keep in mind that melt shop will have been shut down for over a year by February 1, no matter how you do the counting, and, therefore, that part of the operation is dead, zoning wise.  To repeat what I've written before, zoning regulates USE.  Once a USE is abandoned, it's dead.  Besides, in order to start  up the furnaces and melt scrap metal here in Georgetown, Liberty needs to have an air quality permit from DHEC so it can dump toxic electric arc furnace dust on everyone who breathes in Georgetown.  That big vacuum cleaning on the top of the melt shop is about as effective as a cheap vacuum cleaner from Wal-Mart.  Ya'll remember what it was like when the "fugitive dust" that DHEC couldn't identify was like and how it mysteriously and miraculously disappeared when the mill shut down. 

Georgetown needs to move forward.  The Ports Authority needs to agree to annex its property into the city limits.  The Governor needs to direct or urge or prod or whatever the Ports Authority to sign over its property here in Georgetown to the SC Department of Higher Education so that Clemson, USC, and Coastal Carolina can construct a combined campus focused on environmental studies there.  All three universities already have a very strong presence in Georgetown County.  Horry-Georgetown Tech could join the effort with a program focused on high paying jobs in environmental cleanup.  Doing all that would put Georgetown squarely on everyone's radar and provide a place at the table for young people here so that those with "get up and go" don't have to "get up and go." 

Hey, I'm an old man who ain't gonna be around much longer.  So it ain't my future.  It's yours.  Yours and your children and grandchildren.
 

concernedperson

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Re: A question
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2022, 04:53:31 PM »
Good questions. I bet our new mayor is all over this one. The question now is will there be enough courage on council to back her up to shut down this BS attempt to keep the mill zoned the way it is?

IWCCTTT

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Re: A question
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2022, 02:33:52 PM »
Tom this nothing more than the company preserving the value of the property. They are going to lose their ass in money for doing this production stunt. But they cannot afford to let that zoning change.

Tom Rubillo

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Re: A question
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2022, 05:36:17 PM »
The zoning has already changed for a major portion of the property.  Liberty abandoned its heavy industrial use of the 20+ acres stretching from Wood to Dozier/Front to the Sampit much, much more than a year ago.  That stretch of land is now zoned "mixed use."  Similarly, the part of the property that encompasses the melt shop and bag house has not be used for any "heavy industrial" purpose for nearly two years now, so the zoning on that part of the property has already changed too. 

Liberty would do a lot better if it simply acknowledged two important realities.  First, it acquired the mill property by way of a stock purchase rather than a simple asset purchase.  When it did so, it acquired all of the liabilities of its predecessor corporation along with its assets.  That means that it is liable for  the cost of environmental clean-up.  Second, it acquired that stock with clear notice of the existence of the one year limit in the city zoning ordinance--that if it ceased operations for more than a year the zoning would change.  In short, Liberty went in with its eyes wide open, so it can't complain now that it is being treated unfairly.  Its executives and lawyers are adults, not naive or spoiled children who get what they want because they have a temper tantrum.

The way out of this mess for Liberty is to strike a comprehensive deal with the city.  Part of that deal could include sale of its offices to the city for the latter's use as its new city hall.  The city was looking to spend about 5 million to build a new facility.  Any price less than that for the city would be a savings.  Next, Liberty can get out from under its liability for the cost of clean up by donating the land to the city and/or county and/or state of South Carolina (or all three) in exchange for (a) written acknowledgement or written receipt thanking Liberty for the donation of say $50 million worth of real estate and (b) a hold harmless agreement freeing the corporation from any liability for clean up costs.  Liberty could then write the donation off of its tax liability to the federal government and walk away scot-free from its liability for the cost of clean up.  Part of the deal could include reserving the right to Liberty to salvage any equipment or building materials that it wanted from the site.  Do that and Liberty comes out smelling like a rose.  Either that or make a lot of lawyers happy for its contribution to a program of full employment for attorneys.

With the help of Senator Scott, Senator Graham, the Governor, the SC Dept of Commerce, the new mayor, city council and the county council, an application to the EPA's Superfund program would kick start clean up of the property. 

Other suggestions, particularly those of any naysayers to this approach, are invited.  This website is provided as a forum for public discussion, so please, discuss..........

concernedperson

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Re: A question
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2022, 10:40:38 AM »
Well, well, well. Our new mayor has led the way again. The city says the steel mill in not in compliance. Looks like the next move is to shut them down? Mr. Rubillo?

Tom Rubillo

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Re: A question
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2022, 04:10:34 PM »
I agree.  While lawyers book billable hours on all of this, the city should begin the application process with EPA's Superfund program to clean up the environmental mess once the hunger of attorneys has been sated.  Reminding Liberty of its obligations to pay for the clean-up of the 50 acre site and the Sampit River basis near the mill should help the difficult realities of its decision to buy the mill by way of a stock purchase rather than an asset purchase sink in, making Liberty's owners a little more reasonable. 

There will be some tough discussions and rough politics ahead, testing the strength of character of a those involved. 

Amazing2Me2

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