Sharon Steel furnaces bite the dustThe resulting 15,000 tons of steel will be sold for scrap
Saturday, March 11, 1995
At 6 p.m. Friday, Judy died.
Cause of death: Nobody wanted to pay to keep her alive.
Standing nearly 110 feet tall and dressed in blackened steel, she was hardly the most attractive gal in town. Yet, when she belched out smoke, she was beloved.
Sharon Steel Corp.'s No 2 blast furnace, nicknamed Judy, met its fate with explosives and crashed to the earth with a kathump. The No.3 furnace, which stood next to No. 2, was felled at the same time. An old No. 1 furnace housed at the mill was dismantled about 70 years ago.
Accompanied by a flash of yellow light, the explosion could be heard for miles around the Farrell steel mill.
Steel from both furnaces will be picked apart and sold for scarp.
The Schoonover Co. paid $1.65 million for the right to scrap parts of the Farrell mill. The Ecorse, Mich., company began its estimated 10-month project in December. Sharon Steel owns land on the section of the mill Schoonover is scrapping.
Ray Schoonover, owner of the company, estimated that both furnaces combined will yield 15, 000 tons of steel.
One hundred pounds of plastic explosive was needed to blow up the furnaces, said Doug Loizeaux, vice president of Controlled Demolition Inc. Schoonover hired the Phoenix. Md., company to demolish both furnaces.
An hour before pushing the button that set off the explosive, Loizaaux briefly explained that each furnace was supported by eight cast steel legs. Schoonover tore out two legs in each furnace before Friday. CDI thought the legs were made of cast iron, which is more brittle and easier to explode than cast steel.
We had to use twice as much explosive than we thought, Loizeaux said.
Success or failure in a demolition project is immediately known.
It's fun, he said of his work. You get to meet a lot of people.
Judy received much attention during the 1960's when the aging No. 1 furnace needed to be replaced. At the time, Sharon Steel said it needed No. 2 repaired to survive.
When the repaired No. 2 furnace was dedicated in 1968, it was named after then-Farrell resident Judy Nath. She and her husband, Charles, had owned a consulting firm that helped secure a $5.2 million federal Urban Development Action Grant for the project. Nath, who died in 1987, had been city manager and redevelopment director in Farrell.
His widow has since remarried and now lives in Pullman, Wash.
A blast furnace produces molten iron ore that is used to make steel. When operating, the No. 2 furnace could produce about 60,000 tons of iron ore a month. Sharon Steel idled the furnace when it closed the mill in November 1992. Later that month, Sharon Steel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is now selling all its assets to pay its creditors.
Caparo Inc., which bought much of the mill from Sharon Steel in December, didn't want the blast furnaces. Instead, Caparo will use the two electric furnaces at the mill to produce steel.
Immediately after the blast and the crash of the furnaces, an excited Schoonover employee could be heard congratulating Loizeaux over two-way radio.
Great job. You're the best in the world, the worker said.
Loizeaux tried to calm him down.
Don't tell me what a great job I did, just give me my paycheck, Loizeaux joked.
Here are some thoughts on the demise of Judy from those who were involved with Sharon Steel Corp:
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