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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Economic Development - Chicago Coke Plant May Come Back to Life

"Warming trend at coke plant: Growing steel demand spurs plans to reopen; 200 jobs possible," is the headline to this story today in the Chicago Tribune. The story is about "the former LTV coke plant [that] broods silently on the industrial shores of the Calumet River." More:

[T]he plant has been shuttered for the past 30 months, and the trains that once rolled out full of coke bound for LTV's steel mill in nearby East Chicago, Ind., no longer run.

That may be about to change, however. The plant, with its bewildering skein of pipes and its banks of ovens for transforming coal into the hot-burning coke, may be coming back to life.

If it does, it will be a remarkable event. Remarkable because when LTV penny pinchers pulled the plug on the 240-employee facility known as the Chicago Coke Battery, the big plant wasn't just closed, but rendered useless.

Now, almost amazingly, it's needed again. Negotiations now in the final stages promise to lead to a reopening, and a costly rebuild, of the Southeast Side facility.

The irony is the more than 200 jobs that the plant promises never would have been lost "had somebody paid the cost of a week's worth of natural gas" when LTV Corp. was in its death throes in early 2002, says an official with the United Steelworkers union,

The story of how one of the most modern coke plants in America was sentenced to death, and how a buyer now appears willing to spend heavily to buy it and bring it back to life, reflects the remarkable turbulence that has rocked the U.S. steel industry over the past few years.

Gets your attention, doesn't it?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 4, 2004 10:33 AM
Posted to Indiana economic development