Nucor Corporation (Charlotte) Asbestos

As one of the most powerful producers of steel in the United States and an important player in the industry of “mini mills,” the Nucor Corporation is also the largest recycler of any substance in North America, recycling a total of a ton of steel every two seconds. The recycling takes place at mini mills, which take advantage of an arc furnace in order to melt down scrap metal, as opposed to using a blast furnace to extract metal from raw mined ore.  Interestingly, the company was first created as a manufacturer of vehicles in 1897, named the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. The company has been through bankruptcies and reorganizations, and has still managed to come out on the other side as one of the most powerful players in the industry.

The founder of the company was Ransom E Olds. The brand that he created would eventually be purchased by General Motors and become the Oldsmobile Corporation. In 1905 he went on to create the REO Motor Car Company. The company proved not to be profitable and went bankrupt in 1938.  Emerging from the bankruptcy, the company began focusing on producing trucks. After World War II, it moved on to the production of lawnmowers. Despite continuing to exist during this time, the company still proved not to be profitable. The assets owned by the company were eventually sold for a loss to the Brass Company and Bohn Aluminum.

At this point, the company was little more than a legal entity with no physical assets and $16 million. The company had planned to liquidate the remaining cash to the shareholders. Oddly enough, a group of shareholders blocked the liquidation and forced the company to buy a business known as Nuclear Consultants, Inc. The REO Motor Company than became the Nuclear Corporation of America, which also failed.  The company again filed for bankruptcy in 1965, and sold all assets that were not used to service a steel joist manufacturer found in Florence, South Carolina. It was only then that the company finally achieved success as producer of steel in the form of bars, beams, sheets, plates, joists, girders, fasteners, grating, mesh, and many other products.

During the 1970s, it was common for factories including the Nucor Corporation to use asbestos. This was because the naturally occurring fibrous mineral was an extremely good insulator of both electricity and heat which was also resistant to fire. In the short term, it protected a large number of people. Unfortunately, the same substance has since proven to be quite fatal to many workers, causing the fatal cancer known as mesothelioma decades after exposure.