Scrap metal market declines with souring economy

The piles of junk on the yard at E.J. Knight Scrap Material Co. are growing. And that's not good news. Just ask Mark Kamensky, a third-generation salvage yard owner.

"I probably got a half a million dollars here in good times," Kamensky said last week. "In today's market, it's probably worth $100,000 — and that's if I could get somebody to take it. Nobody wants it. I couldn’t give it away."

In about two months the scrap metal business has gone from boom to bust.

It happened quickly.

"That's an understatement," Kamensky said. "It happened over a six- to eight-day period."

Around Labor Day, Kamensky and others in the scrap metal business noticed a fundamental change that was triggered when the bottom fell out of the international market: Orders from China stopped.

Rick Caldwell, general manager of Schnitzer Steel's Columbus plant, the former J.T. Knight plant, said it was abrupt.

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