Those attending the groundbreaking ceremony for Nucor Steel West Virginia line up to turn 550 shovels of dirt at the same time, breaking a world record as documented by Guinness World Records, which had staff on site to verify the record for the world’s longest shovel line. It stretched nearly half a mile. (photo by Jim Ross)
Company News

Nucor Breaks Ground On West Virginia Steel Mill

With its permit from the Corps of Engineers for its barge dock on the Ohio River in hand, Nucor Steel West Virginia conducted a groundbreaking ceremony October 20 for its $3.1 billion sheet steel mill at Apple Grove, W. Va., about two miles below the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

The Corps issued the permit at the end of July, ending a months-long process that involved moving thousands of an endangered species of mussel at the dock site. Site work began soon after the permit was approved.

The dock will be built along 7,500 feet of riverbank. It will have five barge fleeting areas capable of mooring a total of 48 barges at once.

The dock will allow scrap metal and other raw materials to be delivered to the plant and allow finished products to be shipped by river to customers or to processing facilities. During construction of the mill itself, several large pieces of production equipment will be delivered by river and unloaded at the dock area.

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At the groundbreaking, West Virginia’s two U.S. senators said they used their influence to get the Corps to approve the permit.

A line of shovels awaits the record-breaking event.
A line of shovels awaits the record-breaking event.

“We laid heavy on the Corps of Engineers to move faster,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said before the ceremony began. “They’re not known for moving quickly, and we had, I would say, a couple of kind of tense meetings, but in the end Nucor performed on the permitting side, and so did the Corps. That was a good day.”

To the audience at the ceremony, Capito said she intervened to get the Corps to move faster. She said she told Corps officials, “You’re coming before my committee on a budget hearing soon, so let’s talk.”

Addressing hundreds of people at the ceremony, Sen. Joe Manchin asked, “Is anybody here from the Corps?” When no one responded, he said, “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t have come either.”

After the ceremony, John Farris, vice president and general manager of Nucor West Virginia, said the delay may have worked out well for Nucor as it gave the company time to work on its construction supply chain issues.

“We were in that process for so long, it allowed us to really refine our plan and really get a lot of the engineering done,” Farris said. “We feel pretty good about it.”

To end the occasion, Nucor invited people to participate in the groundbreaking. It had a line of shovels – 550 of them stretching nearly half a mile – so on a signal everyone could turn a shovelful at once and set a world record recognized by Guinness. An adjudicator from Guinness World Records was at the ceremony and certified that a record for the longest shovel line had indeed been set.

While site preparation work for the mill began soon after the permit was issued, work on the dock began only recently with the removal of some trees. Piling work begins in November, Farris said.

“The arc furnaces are being built in North America, and the caster … will be built in Italy and the galvanizing lines in France. A lot of that material will come up the river. … All the big pieces will come up the river,” Farris said.