An investment of more than US$500m in one of Berkeley County’s oldest industries will be celebrated June 5 at Essroc’s new cement production facilities near Martinsburg.
An open house from 2-6pm. will give the public the opportunity to take bus tours of the plant at 1826 S. Queen St., Essroc spokesman Marco Barbesta said Wednesday. A dedication ceremony is scheduled to be held at 10:30am that day.
“From the 1800s (until now), this is the best its ever been,” plant manager Paul Biel said of the former Capitol Cement Corp. plant. “For me, it’s been a very positive transition ... it’s a big change.”
Capitol Cement was purchased by Essroc in 2002. Essroc, headquartered in Nazareth, Pa., is a member company of Italcementi Group, which is the fifth-largest cement producer in the world, according to the company’s profile.
The new plant has the ability to deliver 2Mta of cement and Biel said the company has plans to ship more product via CSX Transportation and Winchester & Western’s rail lines.
The company has upgraded its connection to CSX and has plans to build a rail spur from the plant to Winchester & Western railroad’s track west of U.S. 11, Biel has said.
The first batch of clinker was produced by the new kiln on Oct. 29, 2009, but plant engineer Matt Becker said testing and analysis of the new operations continues.
Upgrades to the plant include an enclosed limestone storage dome, cement/concrete laboratories, a five-stage preheater-precalciner, kiln, clinker storage silo, two vertical finish mills, a control room/administration building and a new customer entrance via New York Avenue.
The dome, along with a new conveyor system that is completely enclosed have been key components to reducing dust, and Barbesta said the community, particularly a nearby car wash business, has noticed the difference. Access roads at the 849-acre plant site also have been paved, Barbesta said.
With the plant’s conversion from a wet to a high-tech dry production process, the company said it invested in more than 23,000 hours of advanced training programmes and safety enhancements. Production switched from three kiln lines to one and the old kiln lines are now being removed, Barbesta said.
With the upgrades, the capacity of clinker production was increased to 5500tpd, according to the company’s profile of “The New Line” at Martinsburg. Previous production was less than 2500tpd.
A new bridge to carry the rail spur over US 11 is expected to “more than adequately” meet bridge clearance standards, Gary W. Scott, chief of West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Railroads and Utilities Unit, said Wednesday. The state has received preliminary plans for the project and Scott said “there shouldn’t be any hurdles.”
Biel said Essroc looked at the “chaos” they could have created by only upgrading its existing rail connection to CSX along South Queen Street and decided to pursue a second rail connection with Winchester & Western.
The new spur to Winchester & Western will be built on land that Essroc has already purchased, Biel said.
The two rail connections together will enable distribution of products in a 500-mile radius, Biel said.
“There’s not enough business here to sustain us, it’s not possible,” Biel said.