Ports & Terminals

Meade County (Ky.) Riverport Authority Formally Dissolves

Following the acquisition of property for a steel plate manufacturing plant, the Meade County (Ky.) Riverport Authority has dissolved.

The riverport dissolved effective June 20, according to state records.

Nucor Steel Brandenburg, a $1.7 billion steel plate manufacturing plant, is under construction on 950 acres bordering the Ohio River. The company broke ground on the plant in October 2020. It is expected to employ 400 people earning average wages of $35 per hour, according to documents submitted to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

In a second quarter earnings call July 21, Nucor Corporation President and CEO Leon Topalian updated shareholders.

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“Our Brandenburg, Ky., plate mill is on schedule and on budget for a late 2022 production start with almost 400 team members on board,” he said. “This is a game-changing mill in the U.S. plate market that will firmly establish us as the market leader in plate.”

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said in announcing the Brandenburg plant in March 2019 that it was one of the state’s top-five economic development wins.

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) awarded a $2,363,800 Marine Highway Grant to Nucor Steel Brandenburg in June 2020 to support the construction of a marine terminal at the new plant consisting of two repurposed casino barges. The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) sponsored the grant.

By moving cargo via barge on the Ohio River, the terminal is expected to employ 20 people with full-time jobs in material handling and stevedoring as well as related jobs for fleet boat operators and deckhands, MarAd said, adding that the grant would also help stimulate the U.S. shipbuilding industry on the inland waterways.

The grant was expected to help offset a portion of the significant investment needed to construct a greenfield marine terminal at Brandenburg capable of receiving raw materials and shipping outbound steel products by barge.

David Pace, chairman of the Meade County-Brandenburg Industrial Development Authority, said that since Nucor bought out the property, the industrial authority is pursuing economic development opportunities at another location. He said it was too early to reveal details of that proposed development.

The riverport was formerly home to a Consolidated Grain and Barge Inc. grain terminal. A condition of Nucor’s deal to build at the site was that the grain company had to shut down, according to reporting in The Meade County Messenger newspaper.

The newspaper also quoted Magistrate Billy Sipes, who said at a Meade County Fiscal Court meeting in May that several members of the court had recently attended a meeting regarding a new grain elevator proposed to be built across the river in Mauckport, Ind.

The riverport authority board met earlier this year to terminate the ground lease and pay the $7,500 in its bank account back to the Meade County Fiscal Court. The riverport authority reported that it did not own any property, assets or liabilities.

Nucor Corporation, the parent company of Nucor Steel, announced in January that it plans to build a sheet steel mill along the Ohio River in Apple Grove, W.Va. The company said it also plans to build a processing and transloading facility in the Weirton, W.Va., area. That facility would receive material shipped by barge from Apple Grove in preparation for shipment to customers in the Northeast. The Apple Grove mill will make steel from scrap that arrives by barge and rail.

The Apple Grove mill will be Nucor’s third location along the Ohio River, and Weirton will be its fourth. Nucor owns and operates a mill in Gallatin County, Ky., near the Markland Locks and Dam, in addition to the plate mill under construction in Brandenburg.

Nucor also owns Nucor Tubular Products, which has an operation in Louisville, Ky.