Nucor says storage dome collapse to delay production

Nucor Corp. said Thursday the storage dome collapse in Convent will delay the start of production at Nucor Steel Louisiana.

The Charlotte, N.C., company planned to begin production in Louisiana within a few weeks.

A news release Thursday said production likely won’t begin until the end of the year.

Authorities said nobody was hurt and the accident did not create any pollution.

Nucor said construction and hot commissioning, or testing of the plant operations, are continuing while the accident is investigated and damage assessed.

The $750 million plant will use natural gas to convert iron ore pellets into “direct-reduced iron,” also called “sponge iron,” which is then used to make steel.

The collapsed dome was one of three set up to store iron ore pellets.

The DRI plant, which officials broke ground on in early March 2011, is the first of five phases that Nucor may build to create a $3.4 billion integrated steel mill in Convent.

Nucor officials had said Wednesday, before the collapse, that after startup in “the next few weeks,” production would ramp up during the fourth quarter of 2013 and that the DRI plant would be fully operational by the start of the year.

The company has already hired 140 people to work in the DRI plant and aimed to reach its planned 150-employee mark a year ahead of a 2015 goal, company officials said.