A Montana metals recycling firm plans to buy a 42-acre tract in the Port of Tacoma's Frederickson Industrial Development District to create a steel recycling and sorting center to prepare metals for export. The new center will employ about 35 workers.
The Port of Tacoma Commission took the first step Thursday in attracting the metal recycling firm by approving unanimously an assignment of a lease on a 9-acre Frederickson tract to Pacific Steel Partners LLC. The site is now leased to Seattle freight-handling firm MacMillan-Piper. The 9-acre leased tract is part of the 42-acre site Pacific Steel wants to buy.
Jack Hedge, the port’s real estate and asset management director, told commission members that once Pacific Steel completes its planned acquisition of MacMillan-Piper’s loading facilities and rail spurs on the leased site, it will likely negotiate to buy the entire 42-acre parcel. He said he expects the MacMillan-Piper asset sale to be completed within 60 days.
Pacific Steel’s new recycling center will create new rail traffic for Tacoma Rail and new container business for the port, Hedge said.
Pacific Steel expects to buy the scrap metal at facilities throughout the northern Plains and move it by rail to Frederickson, where it will be sorted and graded and packed into containers for shipment overseas.
Both the inbound and outbound scrap metal will create new business for the municipally owned Tacoma Rail, which provides service both to Frederickson in south central Pierce County and to the port itself. Tacoma Rail’s business has suffered recently as container volumes have fallen at the port in step with the recession.
Hedge, under questioning by commission members, said the environmental impacts of Pacific Steel’s operation were expected to be minimal. There will be no grinding or cutting of the metal to create noise at the sorting yard, he said.
The Pacific Steel recycling operation will put the lightly used tract to more productive work, said commissioner Don Meyer. “Its a win-win for the port and for Tacoma Rail,” he said.
MacMillan Piper leased the land at 18727 38th Ave. E. in 2005 with the prospect of creating a busy transloading operation, but the business has been less than the port had hoped.
The port bought the 600-acre Frederickson site, the former home of a Columbia Powder Co. dynamite plant, in 1968 to bring new industry to Pierce County. It has sold or leased portions of the development to industrial firms. The port’s biggest success at the site was attracting Boeing in 1990. Boeing fabricates aircraft wings and tails at a massive plant on the development.
About 100 acres of land will remain available for sale to Frederickson after Pacific Steel acquires the 42-acre site.