UPDATE 1/30/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A power failure at the Marathon Catlettsburg Refinery was the reason for the loud, low hum heard across much of the Tri-State Tuesday night.
Some people say it sounded like a jet engine, or even thunder. Local 911 agencies and WSAZ.com were flooded with callers concerned about the noise.
The long, low dull hum lasted for a good amount of time.
Though a bit unnerving, it was the sound of equipment working properly.
That's according to a spokesperson who says the entire unit at the refinery lost power.
That caused the flaring, which is the process to deal with combustible petroleum byproducts produced at the refinery.
The intensity that came with the power failure caused the higher and quicker impact to the flare, which resulted in the large noise.
Companies do this byproduct burning periodically to clean up the equipment and keep from having a huge potential problem, Mike Tatum with Cabell County 911 explained to WSAZ.com. However, this incident, according to a company spokesperson, was not planned.
Kirk Wilson heard the noise and went to the plant to see what was going on for himself.
"A big blue flame shooting out of the pipe -- usually you go out of there and see a little flame, you could tell there was a lot of power shooting it out," Wilson said.
According to the spokesperson for Marathon, there was no environmental impact to the community and there were no injuries at the plant.
A Kenova Police Department dispatcher said the noise is being caused by petroleum byproducts being “burned off” at the Marathon Refinery along Interstate 64 in Boyd County, Ky.
The Kenova Police dispatcher said the company notified the agency earlier today that the burn-off process would last about two hours Tuesday night.
He said the company routinely goes through the procedure, but it’s rare to have this many calls about the noise associated with it.
Some callers described the noise like fighter jets and continuous thunder.