|North American stainless steel rebar producers include Richburg, S.C.-based Outokumpu Stainless Bar Inc., which has joined domestic peers in the petitioning the Commerce Department for antidumping duty reviews. Its Finnish parent company presents this performance application in an environmental product declaration. PHOTO: Outokumpu Oyj|
The domestic producers are Carpenter Technology Corp.; Crucible Industries; Electralloy/G.O. Carlson, Inc.; North American Stainless; Outokumpu Stainless Bar; Universal Stainless & Alloy Products; and, Valbruna Slater Stainless. They allege dumping margins ranging from 9.35 percent to 46.10 percent for Viraj Profiles and 26.68 percent to 77.83 percent for Venus Wire. Both companies were conditionally revoked from an antidumping duty order after receiving zero or de minimis dumping margins for three consecutive administrative review periods. The Commerce Department granted revocation to Viraj Profiles and Venus Wire contingent on their agreement to immediate reinstatement of the order if they were later found to have resumed dumping stainless steel bar into the U.S. market.
“The available evidence shows that Viraj Profiles and Venus Wire have resumed dumping. As such, they should no longer be entitled to benefit from their conditional revocation from coverage under the antidumping duty order. If the antidumping duty order is to function properly, the Department must ensure that conditionally revoked companies adhere to the conditions of their revocation agreements,” according to U.S. producers’ counsel Larry Lasoff of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Washington, D.C. “The dumping practices by Viraj Profiles and Venus Wire must be addressed immediately or their behavior will significantly damage the effectiveness of the existing antidumping duty order on stainless bar that U.S. producers worked so hard to put into place.”
Antidumping duties are intended to offset the amount by which a product is sold at less than fair value, or “dumped,” in the United States. The margin of dumping is calculated by the Commerce Department. Estimated duties in the amount of the dumping are collected from importers at the time of importation. Upon petitions from parties such as the domestic stainless steel bar producers, the Commerce Department is required to determine within 45 days whether to a) initiate the request for a changed circumstances review, and b) issue a simultaneous preliminary determination that leads to the suspension of liquidation of imports of these products manufactured and exported by Viraj Profiles and Venus Wire. The entire proceeding must be completed within 270 days.
Stainless steel bar covered under the duty is straight length, hot-rolled, forged, turned, cold-drawn, cold-rolled or otherwise cold-finished, or ground; and, has a uniform solid cross section along its whole length in the shape of circles, segments of circles, ovals, rectangles (including squares), triangles, hexagons, octagons, or other convex polygons. It includes cold-finished products that are turned or ground in straight lengths, whether produced from hot-rolled bar or from straightened and cut rod or wire, plus reinforcing bars that have indentations, ribs, grooves, or other rolling process deformations.
The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened in a False Claims Act lawsuit, alleging Energy & Process Corp. (E&P) of Tucker, Ga., knowingly failed to perform required quality assurance procedures and supplied defective steel reinforcing bars in connection with a Department of Energy nuclear waste treatment facility contract.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that construction suppliers who are paid a premium to meet high safety standards actually supply the goods and perform the work for which they are paid,” says Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer, head of the Justice Civil Division. “When contractors cut corners, they not only cheat American taxpayers, but they also can put public safety at risk, particularly when their misconduct affects a facility that houses and processes nuclear materials.”
The lawsuit alleges that although the DOE paid E&P a premium to supply rebar that met stringent regulatory standards for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication and Reactor Irradiation Services facility in the Department’s Savannah River site near Aiken, S.C., the contractor failed to perform most of the necessary quality assurance measures, while falsely certifying that those requirements had been met. The lawsuit further alleges that one-third of the rebar E&P supplied for the construction was found to be defective.
“To ensure that the nuclear facility would be safe, the government paid E&P a sizable premium for exhaustive quality control procedures,” notes U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia. “This lawsuit alleges that E&P intentionally failed to perform the quality control work, and then concealed its failing by providing false certifications to the government. In intervening in this lawsuit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks to ensure that entities that defraud the government are identified and held responsible.”
The lawsuit was filed under False Claims Act whistleblower provisions by Deborah Cook, a former employee of the prime contractor building the DOE facility. The act a) allows private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery; and, b) permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits. Defendants found liable under False Claims are subject to treble damages and penalties.