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After weeklong repair, Posco resumes production at typhoon-hit plant

About 30,000 workers mobilized during Chuseok to restart blast furnaces that stopped for first time since 1973

Posco Group Chairman Choi Jung-woo (second from right in front) inspects the Pohang steel plant in North Gyeongsang Province on Monday. (Posco)
Posco Group Chairman Choi Jung-woo (second from right in front) inspects the Pohang steel plant in North Gyeongsang Province on Monday. (Posco)

South Korean steel giant Posco said Tuesday that it has resumed operation of steel production at its manufacturing plant in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, a week after the factory had been stalled due to heavy rain on Sept. 6 linked to Typhoon Hinnamnor.

Over the four-day national Chuseok holiday that wrapped up Monday, an accumulated 30,000 employees and subcontractors worked around the clock to fully repair the facilities, Posco said.

Key facilities at the plant, including all three blast furnaces, were submerged last week and came to a full stop for the first time since its establishment in 1973. It was estimated that Posco would be losing out on at least 50 billion won ($36 million) for each day that operations were suspended.

On Saturday, the company accelerated its repair work and began operating the No. 3 blast furnace. On Monday, the No. 2 and No. 4 furnaces were repaired. The company currently only operates three blast furnaces.

While the company said the drainage and repair work at the rolled steel manufacturing plant, which saw the greatest damage due to rain, is still underway, with up to 80 percent of the repair work completed as of Tuesday morning. A company official said the firm will know the extent of the damage once the repair work is completed.

To minimize losses to clients, Posco said it would operate an emergency team to support urgent shipments to ensure a stable supply.

The steelmaker said it would also shift production volume at the Pohang plant to another steel plant, located in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. Urgent orders will be received and handled from the Gwangyang plant, the company said.

The company has also designated a team of leaders for repair work at the site, so repairs can be conducted with high level of awareness for additional damages. The firm said it has also been giving safety lessons to workers on-site to prevent accidents such as electrical injuries or a gas leak.

Posco Group Chairman Choi Jung-woo on Monday visited the Pohang steel plant and ordered full-scale support and repair work. He has also participated in the repair work, the company said.

“What comes first for the repair work is safety, so I ask for following the guidelines without haste (when doing the repair work),” he told employees, while also expressing appreciation for employees’ support and efforts to repair the facilities in Pohang.

Last week, Pohang was hit hard after the typhoon skirted the country on Sept. 6, leaving seven dead in floods and landslides. Up to 505 millimeters of rain fell per hour, while wind speeds were recorded as high as 138 kilometers per hour.



By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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