Nucor talks recycling, port talks pollution, and more @ Southwest District Council

Of the three presentations at Wednesday night’s Southwest District Council meeting. two continued the environment/sustainability theme that began with last month’s meeting:

NUCOR: Pat Jablonski spoke for the steel mill’s environmental team =”We’re a recycling facility,” Jablonski said – they take scrap, melt it down, and make it into steel products, mostly rebar that can be used in construction, infrastructure, “any sort of major construction project around here, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll have our steel in it.” The plant’s been there since 1905. “The overall business model of recycling scrap and producing steel products” hasn’t changed over the years. More than 300 people work there; the average salary is $90,000 a year, with entry-level positions around $60,000.

The plant runs “lean” with a lot of decision-making autonomy, and the first 10 percent of profits are divided among workers, Jablonski said. He said energy consttutes a large portion of the plant’s operating costs, so “we have to be absolutely vigilant about minimizing our energy footprint.” He noted that the plant is heavily regulated and has a collaborative relationship with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency but “they’re watching over us and we have to be responsive to them.” Most of their competition is overseas and manufacture with an “integrated” process, often “from scratch” and attached to a coal-fired power plant. “If you compare a ton of steel from Nucor to a ton of steel from a Chinese plant, you’re talking about a … two-ton carbon emissions difference.”

Questions: Is your plant producing at full capacity right now? About 80 percent, Jablonski said.

Producing steel for local products also is environmentally friendlier – local steel built the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and then part of it was torn down, with some of that steel recycled into rebar used to build the tunnel.

What about water use? Emergency Communications Hub rep Cindi Barker asked. Reply: While they need a lot of water to cool things, they’re not discharging it – they’re saving and reusing it as much as possible.

SWDC secretary Roxane Rusch from the Admiral Neighborhood Association brought up the Slag Recycling Initiative, approved two years ago. She says the big slag piles are still visible along Harbor, and asked for the program’s status. Jablonski explained that the biggest customer so far is the asphalt industry. Slag has been recycled for decades, he said, and the legislation had to do with clarifying that there are different types, and what Nucor produces, for example, is not the same as copper-smelter slag. This year slag sales are up; last year they did a pilot project paving a section of North Sound highway with a 20 percent slag mix, and it worked better than the standard mix, he said. They’re working on a specification for slag and other things to make it “handy for engineers” to use. Yes, but when will the pile be gone? pressed Rusch. Can it be covered? Jablonski said they have worked to minimize the dust and in fact next year have hired more staff for the water truck and other means of doing that.

Next question was about the occasional loud noise in the middle of the night. “Once you bring this stuff up to temperature, it’s more efficient … and this is a 24-hour-a-day operation, it has to be for us to remain competitive.” They’ve installed various things to dampen the sound. They don’t do anything different at night than they do during the day, he added.

Want to tour Nucor? Contact Jablonski.

.PUGET SOUND MARITIME AIR EMISSIONS INVENTORY: Sarah Cederberg from the Northwest Seaport Alliance explained this report – we covered its presentation back in March. This inventory was first taken in 2005, then again in 2011, then again in 2016. The data is “modeled,” which means estimates rather than actual direct monitoring. It’s focused on container-shipping-related emissions, she explained. What they inventory are air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The latter have not dropped as much as the former. Reasons for the reductions include national/international regulations requiring low-sulfur fuel. The NWSA commission also has resolved to keep greenhouse-gas emissions in line with the Paris 2030 goals, even though maritime was exempt. “We’re the only port that has done this, and it’s going to require … a real shift in the technologies we’re using.” For truck emissions, for example, electric and zero-emission trucks are “starting to come online,” though they’re not likely to be in wide use for a few years. Having shore power for ships is important, too, and Terminal 91 has it for ships, it was pointed out. California is the only state that requires it; there’s been a lot of community concern about ensuring it’s provided when West Seattle’s Terminal 5 is overhauled.

The Clean Truck Program is up to 58 percent of its 4,400 trucks meeting the 2007 standard – a five percent increase from the 53 percent that were at the end of 2017. They have extended the deadline one last time – your truck has to meet the standard by next January, or else you’ll be turned away. They’ve learned through surveys related to the project that 83 percent of the trucks serving the port are independent contractors, most are between 45 and 55 years old, and 46 percent of the drivers identify as non-white (29 percent identified as white, 25 percent declined to answer). She went through details of what the port is trying to do to ensure that the maximum percentage of drivers will be able to meet the deadline.

Cederberg also explained the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, on which the regional ports collaborate despite otherwise being “fierce competitors.” Its next update will be a “much more inclusive process” and community participation will be sought. That process probably will start this fall, she said. Look for public-comment opportunities October through next April.

Rusch asked how the to-be-redeveloped Terminal 5 will contribute to pollution. Sara said there’s a lot of standards that have to be met, so they hope it won’t contribute much.

The SWDC also hosted a guest outside the environmental theme:

SPD COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Felicia Cross took over this position two months ago after starting with SPD as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, succeeding Maggie Olsen. “It’s like a natural fit for me,” she enthused. The responsibilities include organizing SPD’s Citizen Academy. She said she’s looking at shaking things up a bit, taking a fresh look at the role. Other things she’ll be accountable for include Beds for Kids – last year, 600 were given away; this year, 200. She needs “lots and lots of volunteers” at November 17th to make it happen. Two detectives has been facilitating a personal-safety training course for women; she is looking at organizing one in West Seattle if people are interested

ANNOUNCEMENTS: No July SWDC meeting … The Junction Neighborhood Organization will meet in July, date TBA … The Morgan Junction Community Festival is coming up 10 am-4 pm on Saturday, June 16th … West Seattle Hubs will have a big preparedness event on October 7th, 2-5 pm at High Point, and Saturday, November 3rd, 9 am-noon, at Hiawatha – mark your calendar to be at one! … West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Swift reminded everyone that West Seattle Summer Fest is happening July 13-15 and hat the West Seattle PAWrade dog parade will precede the West Seattle Grand Parade on July 21st … Department of Neighborhoods rep Yun Pitre said Your Voice Your Choice voting will start June 16th.

POSTSCRIPT – NEIGHBORHOOD DISTRICT COUNCILS’ ROLE: An end-of-meeting discussion touched on the continuing question of whether the city is recognizing NDCs (since both the mayor and DoN director who decided to cut ties with them are gone), and what their role/value could be – could it be, holding the city accountable? And does the City Neighborhood Council still really exist? That needs to be determined. And if not, how are neighborhood leaders around the city going to work together on priorities? Along with some investigating, SWDC hopes to have a discussion with interim Department of Neighborhoods director Andres Mantilla. This will be a project over the summer.

11 Replies to "Nucor talks recycling, port talks pollution, and more @ Southwest District Council"

  • Jim June 8, 2018 (8:47 am)

    >>>Rusch asked how the to-be-redeveloped Terminal 5 will contribute to pollution. Sara said there’s a lot of standards that have to be met, so they hope it won’t contribute much.<<<Not much??   PSCAA will allow Terminal 5 to put 6 tons of DPM 2.5 into our air.  DPM 2.5 is a deadly carcinogen that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  Imagine how much it takes to total 6 TONS of it.  Now imagine that drifting over your neighborhood.Terminal 5 is unique among the Port’s terminals because of it’s proximity to neighborhoods.>>>Having shore power for ships is important, too  …………   community concern about ensuring it’s provided when West Seattle’s Terminal 5 is overhauled.<<<It’s all in the words used.  “Provided” is not the same as “will be used by all capable ships.”  The Port has so far refused to commit to maximum use of Shore Power at Terminal 5.BTW – Shore Power is also good for the health of the people who work at T-5.

  • Don Brubeck June 8, 2018 (8:58 am)

    One reason I like living in West Seattle is that we have industries like Nucor Steel.  They are sustainable, they provide family wage jobs, they give to the community, and they make products we need. For seismic reinforcement of Fire Station 5’s pier on the waterfront, we used rebar from Nucor, all made from recycled steel and trucked just a few miles from source. They helped make it a LEED Gold project.

    • SteelWolf June 8, 2018 (12:10 pm)

      I agree. Good neighbors!!And there are few companies that continue for 100 years.It is in all of our interest to see diverse industry thrive in WS. Maybe NUCOR sees community interest (not that they complain) as pressure, but I see it as an opportunity to be more efficient and therefore competitive.We cannot survive on overpriced restaurants and coffee / cupcake shops alone. Maybe we should open a flour mill at the end of California St – NUCOR can show us the way :)

  • neighbor June 8, 2018 (9:33 am)

    It’s obvious that the taxpayer funded  Port doesn’t care about its revenue base… actual human beings. If the Port did it wouldn’t think giving cancer to our children was a smart business decision! It is criminal to be putting these ships right next to our families. Every rep like Gregoire should be held accountable for the life long effects these pollutants will have on our children. The science tells us that these fuels are poisonous to us why is the Port lying to the public? Why are the people living in West Seattle allowing this?

    • Another neighbor June 8, 2018 (2:45 pm)

      With absolutely no disrespect intended, I think it would be more accurate to say it is we who chose to live near a busy shipping port. It was here long before most of us were.

      • Jim June 8, 2018 (3:47 pm)

        Cities evolve and mature as they expand.  Seattle is increasing in density.  Being first in an area is not a lifetime guarantee to do whatever you please. 

  • TJ June 8, 2018 (3:07 pm)

    Seems like container ships have been working pier 5 for a long time? This isn’t a new terminal encroaching on West Seattle, so modernizing the terminal now shouldn’t become a time to rally against future work there like this is a brand new pier. Noise and pollution have been there for a long time. And I would guess that these ships put out more pollutants 30 years ago then now. All that being said, I hated that the port is taxpayer subsidized. Of course only in Seattle is the port subsidized. There is no reason it shouldn’t be self sufficient. Raise the rates on ships calling on port and let the chips fallbwhere they may. Too expensive? Go to Tacoma, or up to Canada

  • KD June 8, 2018 (4:03 pm)

    Is there a public tour scheduled for Nucor any time soon?  I saw a public tour posted several years ago but I never been able to find any additional information.  Would love to take tour!

  • 98126res June 8, 2018 (7:30 pm)

    Great to know more about Nucor Steel. They are a really big neighbor, and we pass them several times a week.  Thank you for posting the details and Q&A, and other items at the meeting!

  • Seaweedtoasted June 12, 2018 (3:51 pm)

    I’m happy to hear that Nucor has an environmental team and also collaborates with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. What does that really mean, though? Does anyone else wonder about the acres and acres of grey dust on the land they occupy? There must be a more environmentally sound way to handle that and reduce the negative impact on our neighborhood- especially for our young people! I have other concerns in regards to planning our local infrastructure and development and wonder how we are supposed to just ignore the space they consume (esp, re : our “paving project” on Avalon). By the way, they might have some sort of worker /dividend set up, but holy smokes, the Executives make (3+) millions of dollars a year with the CEO making over 12 million dollars a year incompensation. 

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