Officials with the owner of the plant, AK Steel, which also operates a steel mill on the west side of Ashland, told an Ashland city official all of the coke plant’s salaried workers and 170 hourly workers are being transferred to the steel mill, pushing employment there to more than 900.
Ashland Economic Director Chris Pullman told The Independent, Ashland’s daily newspaper, the company had told him 60 workers had taken retirement since the company announced the impending closure of the coke plant.
That meant 25 to 35 of the younger workers were actually losing jobs.
At the time of the announcement of the impending closing six months ago, AK Steel said 263 union and salaried workers were employed at the plant.
Union officials from both the coke plant and the steel mill were in meetings Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
AK Steel said it would have to spend perhaps as much as $50 million to upgrade the plant to bring it into compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
AK Steel announced 21 months ago it had signed an agreement to buy coke for at least 12 years from Sun Coke’s Haverhill North Coke Plant in Franklin Furnace.
The AK Steel coke plant was built between 1912 and 1917 by a company called Semet-Solvay.
AK Steel said the complete shutdown will take several months.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236, or email@example.com.