Georgetown Steel Mill reopens

GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) – Starting Monday morning, 200 employees will return to work at the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Georgetown. The mill, which has been shut down since July of 2009, has been host to teams of maintenance workers that have put the plant back in working order. Even now, sounds of machines whirring to live are audible outside the sprawling complex.

Farther down Front Street, dozens of shops and restaurants are preparing for the return of the steel workers. Restaurants and cafes are preparing to fight for the patronage of the hungry employees and expand their lunchtime business.

"We want to catch them when they're going on lunch break," says Mary Beth Hammerstone, a bartender at Castaways Bar & Grill. "They come in; grab a bit to eat, and a drink or two."

All in all, public reaction in Georgetown has been very positive. The mill represents a very large portion of the city's industry, and having it back in working order means good things for the economy.

But not everyone in Georgetown is quite ready for the plant to come back online. Many neighbors are concerned about the amount of pollutants and smog that come as by-products of steel production. The dust that the plant emanates tends to linger and stick to houses, cars, and people.

"My car's going to get dirty," says Melinda Martin, who lives near the plant. "If I live close by, my house is going to get dirty."

But while people like Martin aren't looking forward to a more extensive cleaning regimen, they do recognize the benefits of having the plant up and running again.

"I'm glad they got jobs, you know. There were a lot of people hurting in the area. So it's a good thing and it's a bad thing."