Severstal exploring sale of U.S. plants

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Both of Severstal’s U.S. plants are on the selling block, but the company is remaining mum on the topic, several media sources have reported.

According to published reports, the Russian-based steelmaker is accepting offers for its Dearborn and Columbus, Miss, plants, which could be valued as high as $1.5 billion, and could sell them off to the highest bidder in the next three months.

Calls to Severstal North America Director of Public Relations Katya Pruett were not returned by press time, but a note on the parent company’s website stated that though Severstal is “fully committed to maximizing value creation for its shareholders,” they are “considering a range of strategic options in relation to Severstal North America.”

About 2,500 people are employed between the two plants, with about 1,400 of them working at the Dearborn plant at 4001 Miller Road on part of the former Rogue Steel complex.

Published reports also state that two potential buyers for the plants are U.S. Steel and Brazil’s Companhia Siderurgica Nacional.

Severstal and U.S. Steel have done business before, as they jointly owned and operated the Double Eagle Steel Coating Co., 3000 Miller Road, until it was closed last July.

U.S. Steel also operates Great Lakes Works in Ecorse, a steelmaking plant.

The announcement of a possible sale comes soon after Severstal was awarded a revised permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to continue to emit their current level of pollutants into the air.

The new permit allows the company to double its carbon monoxide emissions, allow for PM10, or fine-particle dust, emissions to rise between two and five times and lead emissions to increase hundreds of times, though both MDEQ and Severstal officials have indicated that the permit will not actually allow an increase in pollution, but will more accurately reflect what the plant has been emitting since 2006 when the initial permit was issued.

The new permit brought controversy with it though, as many resident filed complaints with the MDEQ centered on health issues associated with fallout, smoke and other emissions from the plant.

MDEQ Air Quality Division Chief Vince Hellwig said Severstal has been issued 38 notices of violation for pollution from the MDEQ since 2010, but that the new permit will enhance the emission and operational monitoring requirements and expand testing requirements for the plant moving forward.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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