Sweeney vows to fight closure of asphalt refinery

photo Sweeney vows to fight closure of asphalt refinery images

photo of Sweeney vows to fight closure of asphalt refinery

Sweeney vows to fight closure of asphalt refinery : Officials gathered Wednesday night to talk about efforts to save the Paulsboro facility.

WEST DEPTFORD TWP. -- Lawmakers and union leaders are promising to do all they can to save a Paulsboro asphalt refinery from closing.

Officials joined workers and their families Wednesday night to talk about the impact of the possible closure of Axeon Specialty Products.

The Connecticut-based company is planning to close the local plant, according to published reports, though company officials have declined to comment officially on the situation.

Axeon is selling its marketing business to Virginia-based Associated Asphalt, but the fate of the refinery itself remains unclear. The company is reportedly in discussions to lease the terminal portion of the facility.

The plant employs more than 100 people and many of them turned out Wednesday night, along with spouses and several children, at the Thorofare fire hall in West Deptford to hear from union representatives and state leaders about what this loss could mean for employees, their families and the local business community.

Speakers noted that this is one of only two asphalt refineries in the state and that this is the largest such facility in the country in terms of production output.

"The company is telling us that they are talking about closing part of our facility down and leasing the other part," said John Flem, president of United Steelworkers Local 4-991, which represents the plant's unionized employees.

He noted the plant's strong connection to the local area.

"We do a lot of business in the community," he said. "We try to support our community."

Ship set to dock at new Paulsboro port

Senate President Steve Sweeney, joined by his Third District colleagues, Assemblymen John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro, pledged the trio's continued support in fighting to save these jobs.

"These guys have been all over us to be active on this," Sweeney said, pointing to the union leaders.

"We're not going to lose this without a fight," he told the crowd. "I think we have a shot at holding on to this."

While the plant is currently owned by a private equity firm, Lindsay Goldberg LLC, Sweeney is hopeful they can find a buyer who understands the importance of the facility.

He pointed to the recent replenishing of the state Transportation Trust Fund, meaning the state will finance billions of dollars in road projects over the next eight years.

"Where are you gonna get the asphalt?" Sweeney asked. "Why the hell do we need to go to Ohio or anywhere else?"

He noted that the plant is a successful business, so it's not as if the owner is giving up on a losing operation.

Sweeney also noted that the state pension fund invests nearly $300 million in Lindsay Goldberg and said he hopes that will count for something when officials negotiate with the plant owners.

Sweeney told the audience that he has a personal connection to the plant.

"I'm a union ironworker by trade," he reminded the audience. "I've worked at your site. I helped build your plant."

The union invited a company representative to attend Wednesday night, but they declined, Flem said.

The union is scheduled to meet with plant owners next week.

Union officials vowed to seek other buyers while also working to convince the current owners to keep the plant running, explained United Steelworkers District Director John Shinn.

"Next week, we are going to demand to know why they need to shut this facility down," Shinn told the workers.

The Paulsboro facility consists of two petroleum refining units, a liquid storage terminal for petroleum and chemical products that can store 4.1 million barrels, three marine docks, rail offloading capacity and other facilities, according to the Axeon website.

The facility was originally built in 1972 and was acquired by NuStar Energy in 2008. NuStar and Lindsay Goldberg, LLC launched a joint venture in 2012 called NuStar Asphalt LLC. Lindsay Goldberg acquired the entire operation in 2014 and the company changed its name to Axeon Specialty Products.

Attendees at Wednesday's session dined on pizza as they talked about their uncertain futures and listened to speakers discuss efforts to save the plant.

"You're not just losing a job, you're losing a family," said one employee and union member. "A lot of us are very close. A lot of people have been here a very long time."

For many, this is what they have done their entire careers, he said, and there aren't many similar jobs available.

He also wonders where the asphalt will come from to make up for what this plant won't produce if it closes. 

"We still have not been told where this asphalt is coming from," he said.

Another employee, a 30-year veteran at the plant, noted that the asphalt produced by this facility has made its way all around the East Coast, including Washington, D.C.

"This plant paved the road in front of the White House," he said.

Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

Source www.nj.com.

related Sweeney vows to fight closure of asphalt refinery

Find some 'Love' at Hoboken's hob'art gallery

"Love" is the title of the current group show, which will be on view until March 4,

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas for lunch with your friends

These butternut squash and black bean enchiladas are a cinch to put together.

Christie signs bill limiting painkiller prescriptions to five days

Gov. Chris Christie called the law the toughest in the nation.

Christie talk on Obamacare repeal spurs worry that N.J. residents could lose coverage

A growing number of medical professionals, lawmakers and family advocacy groups say they nervous for the people who could lose coverage.

Valentine's Day gift: Transplant patient's old heart to serve as teaching tool

Lisa Salberg says she wanted to preserve her old heart to use it as a teaching tool and raise awareness about her heart disease.

Kushner's convictions are irrelevant in $600M fraud case, judge rules again

Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon ruled -- for the second time --the real estate developer's convictions were irrelevant

First ship to dock at Paulsboro, carrying Russian steel and economic hope

The port is set to open in mid-February, opening up hundreds of jobs and offering Paulsboro an economy boost.

Paulsboro High art students win 'Made By Milk Carton' Construction Contest

Students repurposed milk cartons into a creative serpent creature

Jersey Journal front and back page news: Thursday, February 16, 2017

A disgraced retired Jersey City police officer at the center of a federal probe of the city's off-duty jobs program may lose his current $74,334-a-year pension after a state

Jersey City election starts to take shape

The Jersey City mayoral and City Council races are still months away, but the campaigns are already heating up.

Man critically injured in Jersey City assault: cops

A man was found slumped over the hood of an SUV on Martin Luther King Drive with a serious injury to his stomach early Saturday morning, police said.

Lanes to be closed overnights on Route 495 West through Saturday morning

The left lanes on Route 495 West and the entrance to the New Jersey Turnpike will be closed overnight tonight and tomorrow, state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials

3 taken to hospital after student uses pepper spray at Bayonne High: principal

Three people at Bayonne High School were taken to the hospital yesterday afternoon after a student used pepper spray in the school's cafeteria, the school's principal said.

Accused toll cheat facing drug charges, too: cops

Skipping a $15 toll at the Holland Tunnel apparently is going to cost a Long Island man a lot more.

Man who cops say shot himself in leg in 2015 facing new gun charges

Two Jersey City felons have been charged with weapons offenses related to a pair of handguns, including one who was arrested in 2015 after shooting himself in the leg with what he

Jersey City man slugged and robbed woman on her porch: cops

A 41-year-old man has been accused of punching a woman and stealing her purse before he was chased down by the woman's son on Monday.

Brian Stack endorses Steve Fulop's re-election bid

In the first major endorsement of the 2017 Jersey City mayor's race, state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack is backing Mayor Steve Fulop, with a rally planned for outside

Senior Events: Group to mark President's Day; Atlantic City trip planned

OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Seniors will meet on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 12:30 p.m. At this meeting the club will celebrate Presidents' Day.  All are welcome. Our

Poll: Do you agree with banning traveling shows and circuses on Hudson County property?

Do you agree with banning traveling shows and circuses on Hudson County property?Jersey City and Bergen County already have laws on the books prohibiting traveling shows and

5 reasons to visit Health & Wellness Fair in Flemington | Warr

The annual Health & Wellness Fair is set to take place all day Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Flemington.

Elevated lead levels found in 2 Hunterdon County schools

Two Hunterdon County elementary schools have lead in their water that is above the level where action is required to be taken, according to letters released on Feb. 14, 2017.

Kids talk about parent's rules (psst! Sometimes they break them)

We asked New Jersey kids to describe something their parents have rules about. Here's what they told us, even the ones they don't mind following.

Princess prom program enters 6th year in Hamilton

The project, launched in 2011 by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer) provides affordable prom dresses for local young women.

PSE&G to replace 3.7 miles of old gas pipes in New Providence

Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) will be working in New Providence to replace 3.7 miles of old gas pipes with new piping - ensuring a continued safe, clean and

Bail reform again takes heat from cops after alleged repeat burglar arrest

North Brunswick police arrested a burglar who promised to strike again if he's let go

Residents make passionate plea to save Hillsborough Rescue Squad

Residents say they'll pay the extra money in taxes to save Hillsborough Rescue Squad.

Somerset adds 58 acres to Sourland Mountain Preserve

A Feb. 9 closing was held on 58.25 acres of land being deeded to the Somerset County Open Space Preservation Program. Located at the intersection of Pleasant View Road and Route

Let the girls play: Cardinal reverses CYO hoops ban

The archdiocese's new archbishop, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, has made a dramatic reversal of the decision to remove two girls from a coed 5th grade CYO basketball team.