Century Aluminum to idle plant in Hawesville, Ky. causing more t - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Century Aluminum to idle plant in Hawesville, Ky. causing more than 500 layoffs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than 500 people will soon be out of work in a small Kentucky community, but company officials say it may only be temporary.

Century Aluminum notified employees Tuesday that it will be idling its plant in Hawesville, Ky., but not closing it. In a statement, Century placed the blame on “Chinese overcapacity and the improper export of heavily-subsidized Chinese aluminum products have undercut an otherwise viable plant.”

Century also said, “We regret the need to issue this notice at this time and fully understand the impact it will have on our employees.”

“It’s just going to be really tough,” said Hawesville Mayor Charles King. “We have roughly 200 people that work there from our community.

King says the city will feel the effects, too. Century is a big water customer. The county will also lose money from the occupational tax but Mayor King he knows it’s not personal.

“A business is a business,” said King. “The primary reason for being in business is to make money and if the market's not there, you gotta cut your losses.”

For now, he can only provide one explanation to concerned citizens.

“If aluminum prices get better, Century Aluminum will put them back to work,” he said.

Word of the layoffs has spread throughout the city of about a thousand people.

“I just hope and pray that everyone gets to keep their jobs,” said Carolyn Gray, an employee of Main Cross Café in downtown Hawesville.

“There are people who have been there for years and they’re close to retirement age,” she said. “We feel bad for all of them.”

Mayor King remains optimistic.

“It’s going to be hard to replace those jobs if, in fact, they do not survive, but I’m looking forward to the fact that they will,” he said.

Kenny Barkley, spokesperson for Century Aluminum, tells WDRB no aluminum will be produced at the plant after Oct. 31.

The company’s operations in Mt. Holly and Sebree will not be affected.  

More: EPA to remove Hawesville, Ky., aluminum site from 'Superfund' list

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