Within days, Esmark Chairman and CEO James Bouchard will have to make a final decision on whether to spend about $7 million to buy the old Yorkville steel mill from bankrupt RG Steel.
About 230 men and women are expected to go back to work if Bouchard's choice is "yes."
If it is "no," those local residents will join the ranks of the unemployed.
Bouchard was within hours of buying the plant, after having pledged to keep 230 employees working, when he learned RG Steel had not resolved a pollution issue to the satisfaction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The OEPA is concerned soil contaminated at the plant in 2010 may not have been cleaned up properly.
For business reasons, Bouchard has to decide quickly whether to proceed with the purchase. Doing so without knowing the cost of satisfying the OEPA would be foolish.
Several Ohio government officials are working with Bouchard and the OEPA in attempts to resolve the situation. There are various possibilities for handling it - all, to our knowledge, depending on the flexibility of government to react adequately to the situation.
At whatever level required, whether in Columbus or Washington, officials should do what is necessary to save the 230 jobs.