WARREN - Most RG Steel Warren union workers will spend the week sprucing up their work areas and other maintenance tasks during down time created by a part malfunction in the blast furnace, a union official said Monday.
"I saw 10 or 15 today in (the union hall). The others are staying at work doing some cleanup," United Steelworkers Local 1375 President Ed Machingo said after a nozzle known as a tuyere used to inject an air blast into the furnace failed about 2 a.m. Saturday. No injuries occurred.
The failure led to a coal-based fuel called coke being ejected from the furnace and the shutdown until production can resume, expected this weekend, company spokeswoman Bette Kovach said.
Loss of molten iron, which the blast furnace makes from coke, iron ore and limestone, ripples to the basic oxygen furnace, which converts iron into steel, and other departments in the 1,000-worker mill.
The steelmaker offered a week of voluntary layoff to affected members of the 825-worker union local. Workers also could take vacation for the week or by the day, Kovach said. She said the company estimates fewer than 100 will take time off.
In the meantime, the mill will continue filling customer orders with steel already working its way through the system, along with an inventory of steel slabs, Kovach said.
"We won't impact customers, or impact will be minimal," she said.
Kovach said she didn't have an estimate of lost production.
The malfunction followed one in October when a stove in the furnace caught fire. Production was disrupted for about a day.
RG took over the mill from Russia's OAO Severstal last March 31.