Potential steel plant buyers seek support

YORKVILLE – Gaining a groundswell of public grassroots support for completion of the pending purchase of the RG Steel Yorkville mill by Esmark was the main motivation for Jim Bouchard’s decision to pay an impromptu visit to the mill and to the local steelworkers’ union hall on Monday afternoon.

The sale of the plant was to have been closed by Friday at the latest, but Bouchard had been forced to bring the process to what he hopes will be only a temporary halt after a 2-year-old unresolved EPA issue was brought to his attention the day before he intended to complete the $7M purchase.

He still plans to complete the purchase, but realistically that needs to happen within the next few days in order to put the company in position to successfully enter negotiations with potential tinplace customers for the coming year’s sales.

Tinplate contracts are traditionally negotiated on one time annually across the marketplace, explained Bouchard during his visit Monday.

His timetable for reaching a successful resolution on the matter which RG has not resolved, though the problems happened on their watch, is next Friday.

Local, regional and state politicians are being called on to help successfully resolve the matter, possibly through one of the state’s brownfield remediation programs or resources.

Bouchard believes the possibility of the matter being successfully resolved within the timetable he needs to have happen is a strong possibility, he said during his visit to the area Monday.

There is no time to spare when it comes to the importance of closing the sale within the next few days, he explained during a quick stop at the nearby Ohio Coatings Co. site which sits at the south end of the Village of Yorkville.

An 11th hour revelation by RG Steel about an unresolved 2010 EPA issue at the Yorkville mill was the reason Bouchard felt he had no choice other than to delay completing the transaction until he could secure needed details from the EPA to provide a full picture of what the now two year old problem and what was going to be the scope of the mandated resolution.

Bouchard was just hours away from completing the purchase of bankrupt RG Steel’s Yorkville mill for more than $7M when he had to halt the process thanks to news shared by the current owner of the mill, RG Steel.

The letter shared on that Monday brought an unresolved Ohio Environmental Protection Agency matter into the mix, one it appears RG Steel should have taken action to remedy some time ago, but did not.

Bouchard and his team were not pleased to learn of the problem with the unresolved EPA issue only a day before the deal was set to be completed, but were even more frustrated upon learning the letter from the EPA to the plant was originally in RG Steel’s hands on July 30, 2012.

In addition to the 11th hour timing of the revelation by RG to Esmark, Bouchard learned the letter and its information were in the hands of RG on July 30, and it was not shared with Bouchard and his team until the day before the planned completion of closing of the transaction.

RG Steel had gotten the letter about the unanswered citation on July 30 from the EPA, according to Bouchard.

“They had this information in hand from the end of July and only decided to share it with us the very day before I planned to complete the transaction. When I found that out I could not move to finish the deal on the Yorkville mill purchase. I had to get the time to conduct due diligence on the situation before I was going to be comfortable completing the sale transaction.

“We were prepared to close on the Yorkville sale on Tuesday. The cash was wired. We had everything in place that was needed in order to ready to close on the Yorkville deal,” said Bouchard Monday.

If the matter can be successfully resolved inside the span of the next week, Bouchard still plans on completing the purchase of the mill – making it the only one of the closed facilities in RG Steel’s bankruptcy reorganization to have a plan of being up and running within weeks of the sale completion.