Longtime major Berkeley foundry Pacific Steel to close after 83 years

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Jim Xu/Staff

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Pacific Steel Casting, a family-owned company based in Berkeley and one of the largest steel foundries in North America, is set to close permanently  Dec. 17.

The closure was announced Tuesday, as first reported by East Bay Express. According to the foundry’s website, Pacific Steel, which is currently located at 1333 Second St. with three plants, was founded in 1934 and has been operating for 83 years.

In 2014, the company filed for bankruptcy and was purchased for $11.3 million by Speyside Equity, a private equity firm based in New York.

Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio, whose district is where Pacific Steel Casting is located, has been monitoring the company’s carbon emissions for several years.

“This represents a serious loss of good quality jobs for the employees and a loss to the U.S. of one of the few industries of its kind in this country,” Maio said in her email. “Berkeley will lose a strong tax generator that we have worked with for years to curtail emissions.”

Maio added that she hopes the employees who have lost their jobs will receive the necessary benefits.

An employee for Pacific Steel could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Wayne Leblanc, assistant manager of the Avis Car Rental located nearby on 600 Gilman St., said he was previously unaware that Pacific Steel was closing.

“The cars won’t get so dirty,” Leblanc said. “I think it’s graphite that pollutes kind of this area. If we wash a car, the next day it’s kind of got a layer of soot on it that I imagine comes from (Pacific Steel).”

Leblanc said he found it interesting that the company was closing down after being in business for more than 80 years, and he wondered who would “take up the slack.”

Maio, however, expressed optimism about future uses for the site.

“If indeed the businesses closes for good and there is no buyer or future for the set of plants, there is bound to be an attractive reuse of a choice site at a freeway junction with great visibility in Berkeley,” Maio said in her email.

Contact Ella Colbert at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @colbert_ella.