Early-morning noise in northeast West Seattle: Mechanical problem at Nucor

First thing this morning, several people asked us about a loud noise heard from North Delridge to Pigeon Point in the 4 am hour, described as crashing-type sounds. Most thought it was coming from the Nucor steel mill, so we checked with them first. Environmental manager Pat Jablonski called us back this afternoon to confirm that the mill was the source of the noise, which he attributed to a “mechanical problem” in their processing. They shut the mill down to fix it, and it’s back in operation now. Nobody was hurt. He says Nucor is concerned about being a good neighbor and has done all it can to be sure this doesn’t happen again.

25 Replies to "Early-morning noise in northeast West Seattle: Mechanical problem at Nucor"

  • Aaron October 20, 2017 (3:23 pm)

    Thanks WSB..! 

    I can tell you this that was the loudest noise I’ve ever heard coming from NUCOR. Total bummer to have it happen around 4am! Kinda curious what it was, sounded like two trains being slammed together over and over.

    • WSB October 20, 2017 (3:24 pm)

      They would not specify exactly what type of equipment/process malfunctioned, saying it had to do with something proprietary.

  • Don October 20, 2017 (3:51 pm)

     I find this plant to  be constantly in violation of noise pollution on a daily basis. Usually late at night.

    • Wsrez October 20, 2017 (8:12 pm)

      Please file a complaint. I would but I don’t have the specifics.

  • Angie P October 20, 2017 (3:58 pm)

    Lost an hour of sleep to that this morning.  Ended up taking an hour of vacation to try to make up the sleep, but it didn’t help.  I’m wrecked.  My windows were shaking with every boom.  Does Nucor have to answer to noise ordinances when something like this happens (i.e. – will it be fined)?

  • WS Dad October 20, 2017 (4:22 pm)

    Funny how righteous & indignant people get about something that was obviously an unexpected & accidental occurrence for Nucor. The steel mill has been there since long before the residential neighborhoods around it even existed. I’m confident that those who live nearby were aware of that when they moved in & I find all the complaining to be a bit humorous. It’s a steel mill, and steel mills are noisy. This one happens to be recycling all the crap that would otherwise be rusting in the landfill.

    • WSmom October 21, 2017 (6:52 am)

      Agree with WS dad. This was clearly a malfunction of some kind. Give Nucor a break.

    • PaulaB October 21, 2017 (10:46 am)

      Well said WS DAD. Nucor does everything it can to be a good neighbor. They really do. I’ve lived in Pigeon Point for 40 years. I knew the mill was there when I purchased my home. Yes they make noise – it’s a steel plant, but everything good about living here far outweighs any downside.

  • annaeileen October 20, 2017 (4:50 pm)

    OMG!  In my lack of sleep stupor today I forgot why I was so tired.  that noise was so loud and irritating, worse than a Twin Peaks episode!   So irritated by them, the smell alone permeates our yard periodically and now this.   I shut the window and had ear plugs and I could still hear it.  I  hope it doesn’t happen again. 

    • Wsrez October 20, 2017 (6:17 pm)

      Twin Peaks ep, lol!

  • Kk October 20, 2017 (4:58 pm)

    Remember that steel mill was there LONG before probably everyone alive in WS.  

  • Oh My Westside October 20, 2017 (6:10 pm)

    Forget the constant and increasing gunfire in West Seattle and forget the fireworks illegally lit before and after 4th of July and also during Seahawks games. It’s that darn Nucor! 

    • WSB October 20, 2017 (6:35 pm)

      We report on those too. This was unusual – multiple people mentioning a loud, sustained noise waking them up – so we promised we’d see what it was, and this is the result.

      • Oh My Westside October 20, 2017 (6:52 pm)

        I’m appreciative of your report on the cause of the noise. But embarrassed by the complaining of the noise and point of origin. As stated there are gunshots and illegal fireworks but people having a problem with noise at Nucor is just laughable.

  • Hi October 20, 2017 (7:19 pm)

    I highly recommend taking a tour of Nucor sometime. I called and set it up about 5 years ago and it’s one of the coolest tours you can take in Seattle. Especially when you get to see all the molten steel getting poured. I live across the street from them and am used to the noise after 13 years! There is a foul fishy stench from time to time and clanking but ya know……we do live in a city! 

  • Aaron October 20, 2017 (8:45 pm)

    I’ve taken the tour of NUCOR too! They are a super cool neighbor! Thanks WSB for letting me know why my super cool neighbor was smashing trains together at 4 am this morning😃!

  • WSlife October 21, 2017 (6:26 am)

    Lived in west seattle my entire life, I am use to the steel mill for sure, also pretty certain that mill would not be there if it was not a enviromental mess to clean up.

    • Mark47n October 21, 2017 (9:55 am)

      Nucor is not a superfund site. It is there because it’s been there for 100 years, is a productive industrial facility located in what was an industrial area. People who move next door to a steel mill and are surprised by noises are fools.

      Nucor has water treatment systems for storm water and process water is not released into that system. It has well maintained exhaust systems to deal with the particulates and tests the exhaust gases as required. The slag produced as a byproduct from the melting process is not considered hazardous and has been certified and not hazardous by the state and is used in road beds. The only hazardous byproduct is a heavy metal dust and it is not released. It is shipped to a processing facility where the metals, such as zinc and cadmium, are removed and reprocessed. The Seattle facility is also certified as ISO 14001, 9001 and ANSI Z71 facilities.

      SO, hardly an environmental disaster looking to happen. 

      • JanS October 22, 2017 (12:54 pm)

        thanks, Mark.They’ve always been good neighbors, and contribute mightily to this community. I remember when they were Bethlehem Steel before Nucor…hence, the star every Christmas. Stuff happens, and then it’s fixed. Appreciate the education.

  • Progress October 21, 2017 (10:23 am)

    Glad to hear the sound of healthy local business and that Nucor is looking at proprietary process improvement and effeciency. If you don’t like the sound – get out.

    WSB – Thanks for sharing the neighborhood news

  • Aaron October 21, 2017 (11:17 am)

    @Mark47n Sounds like you are very knowledgeable about NUCOR. Like maybe you work there. I’ve only lived here half as long as you and seriously I’ve never heard anything close to that noise come out of it. I don’t think wondering what caused a giant once every 20 year noise that lasted almost half an hour makes anyone a fool. I think it’s pretty funny how righteous everyone is about how, “Darn it, you moved next to it, don’t be surprised.” If I moved next to a bomb testing ground and then after twenty years heard a noise I had never heard before I would still be curious!

  • Another neighbor October 21, 2017 (3:39 pm)

    @Aaron, I don’t think Mark was referring to you personally. I took it as him being frustrated with the tone of some other comments.

    Many of us think Nucor is a great neighbor and that doesn’t mean there won’t be an occasional unexpected noise. It means that if there is something we can call them and ask, and they’ll talk to us about it, like a neighbor. And if we have  concerns we can talk to them about that too. That’s what neighbors do. 

    If you’ve ever been around a steel mill anywhere else then you should know that what they do at Nucor is pretty unique. And they’re full of people who actually care about the neighborhood, so call and talk to them. If you’re not interested in doing that then maybe they’re not the ones who could stand to be better neighbors.

    • WSB October 21, 2017 (5:26 pm)

      I’m sorry I apparently didn’t do a good job of communicating just how alarmed some of the people we heard from were, and not certain that it was coming from Nucor, and it’s absolutely not un-neighborly of people to wonder what is going on and to contact authorities, ask us, etc. We get occasional reports of a bang here or a boom there, which could be an industrial sound or not, and they’re not usually something we follow up on. But in this case, with the descriptions of a long, sustained (15+ minutes) sound (which some reported to 911, appropriately for a seriously alarming noise, smell, etc.), and the likelihood that besides the messages we got, there were also discussions on neighborhood lists, we decided to follow up and see if it was Nucor and if they would comment, which they did. Last time I even had occasion to speak with someone there, it was a year ago and it was about Westley the deer, which had briefly wandered onto the mill’s property. – TR

  • mark47n October 21, 2017 (4:36 pm)

    I do work there and I feel like I walk a thin line in situations like this. What I will say is that the noise was generated from a pressure relief valve on a tank. It was a fault condition in equipment that is owned by one of our vendors that Nucor neither owns or maintains or has access to (think smoke rings).  IT is not a noise that will ever be commonplace or ever be generated by a part of our manufacturing process.

    I really do recommend that people here arrange to take the tour. It’s really interesting to see what goes on in the plant. 

  • Up the Hill Guy October 22, 2017 (12:15 pm)

    I was awakened by the noise, and kept awake. I have lived up hill from Nucor for 14 years and have heard a lot from them. This was a new sound and I immediately felt like it was not something scheduled or intentional. Generally speaking living next to a functioning steel mill comes with some noise and weird smells and trucks but I know that they do their best to be good neighbors. The instance of strange explosion noises dropped when then covered their scrap yard so rain water didn’t get mixed into their  melt. We used to have a nightly grinding train car noise we called “Mothra”- it used to terrify friends of our kids on sleep overs- the plant has fixed the problem (mostly).  Should people call them and complain about noise? Yes! Should they be reported if something like this happens repeatedly? Absolutely.  Should we be surprised that an industrial plant the size of Nucor might have accidents? Not really.  If they were your next door neighbor with a barking dog or loud parties, you would go talk to them.   In this case, take the tour and ask questions- they are human beings.

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