Sparrows Point furnace implosion planned for Wednesday

If all goes to plan, Sparrows Point's steelmaking blast furnace will be imploded Weds.

The most visible vestige of Sparrows Point's steelmaking past will tumble to the ground Wednesday afternoon as workers implode the property's L Blast Furnace.

Workers have been planning for months to bring down the furnace with explosives, part of the ongoing work to demolish structures in advance of redeveloping the property.

Built in 1978, the L Blast Furnace stands 32 stories tall, weighs 11 million pounds and was a key part of the steel-making process at Sparrows Point.

The window for the implosion will be between noon and 2 p.m., according to officials with Sparrows Point Terminal LLC, the former steel mill's owner. But Mark Loizeaux, president of the firm carrying out the implosion, Controlled Demolition Inc., said the target is as soon after 1 p.m. as security and logistics permit.

CDI is working with MCM Industrial Services, a Michigan firm that's overseeing demolition efforts across the site.

Steel was made at Sparrows Point in southeastern Baltimore County for more than 100 years, mostly under the ownership of Bethlehem Steel. After a series of ownership changes, the mill closed when its then-owner, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy. About 2,000 people lost their jobs when the mill closed.

Last fall, Sparrows Point Terminal, which is financially backed by local firm Redwood Capital Investments, bought the mill with the goal of redeveloping it as an industrial campus. The proposal has the blessing of Baltimore County officials and, in September, the company signed pacts with state and federal environmental agencies promising a $48 million cleanup on the 3,100-acre site.

"Today's implosion is a big step in the rebirth of Sparrows Point as one of the region's key economic engines," Michael Pedone, chief operating officer of Sparrows Point Terminal, said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Company officials have said they would not allow the public on or near the property for the implosion.

Sparrows Point Terminal has been quiet about which companies are being recruited to locate at the site, but FedEx filed paperwork with Baltimore County in November for a potential distribution hub on the property.

pwood@baltsun.com

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