The Frontier Group of Buffalo, New York has purchased 1,100 acres of the former Weirton Steel Company property in Weirton, West Virginia, planning to repurpose the plot along the Ohio River, though specifics as to what will occupy that spot next won’t be known for quite some time.
While the old steel mill itself is not part of the purchase, an article in West Virginia Metro News notes that the sale includes Brown’s Island, a blast furnace, ore yard, rail sidings, barge loading and unloading areas, and a basic oxygen plant shop along with a number of other structures on the sprawling property.
Reclamation will be accomplished in stages, making way for any number of industries, which may include manufacturing, energy, chemical, transportation logistics, and healthcare, the company reports.
Frontier Group, which specializes in industrial demolition, industrial dismantling, asset recovery, equipment repurposing, industrial cleanup, site remediation, brownfield redevelopment, facility acquisition, real estate development and materials recycling, has already accomplished other work on West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle and residents have been pleased with the results.
“We believe the Weirton facility, like other industrial sites we have redeveloped, has tremendous attributes and potential,” said David P. Franjoine, president of the Frontier Group of Companies, told the Weirton Daily Times. “Now that we have completed our acquisition in Weirton, we will immediately get to work on identifying what future development and reuse possibilities exist.”
The property currently belongs to Arcelor Mittal. That name was assumed after Weirton Steel merged with Mittal in 2005 and then Arcelor in 2006.
The parent company is headquartered in Luxembourg and is the largest steel producer in the world at this time. The Weirton plant is currently a tin plate operation and employs about 900 workers.
Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, believes the acquisition will make a huge impact on the area.
He went as far as to say that it might actually “redefine” the entire Northern Panhandle.
Indeed, the acquisition of the land is a relief for many. The mill property has long been an eyesore and the mill itself has been responsible for a number of deaths over the years and for making many workers sick.
Employment in a steel mill certainly comes with hazards, and while many of the deaths were accidental, others were caused by exposure to asbestos, which was used abundantly at the mill.
Even though mill executives knew that asbestos was hazardous to the health of the company’s employees, its use continued until the late 1970s.
As a result, generations of West Virginians employed in this and other steel mills became candidates for developing mesothelioma…and many of them did indeed wind up the disease, which tends to be aggressive and kill quickly. As a result, the company has been a defendant in countless lawsuits.