Measuring dust in the wind

Emmission control equipment at plant not working as expected

Four years of work and $118 million went into an environmental retrofit of the Craig Station Power Plant, but that may not be the end of the project.

According to Tri-State Generation and Transmission spokesman Jim VanSomeren, the new emission control equipment is not performing up to standard.

"We're finding we have problems with the baghouses on both units," he said. "They're not functioning up to the standards they're supposed to. The data isn't where it's supposed to be."

Simply stated, baghouses function similarly to the bag on a vacuum cleaner -- they capture dust in the stacks, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

VanSomeren said the plant is maintaining compliance with environmental standards, but the baghouses are not working as they should.

Tri-State is working with the main contractor responsible for the retrofit -- Hamon Research-Cottrell -- to find the problem and its solution.

VanSomeren said he believes fixing the problem would be work under warranty by HRC.

The investigation into the problem is ongoing. VanSomeren said he won't know whether a large crew of workers will be brought back to make changes until he knows what the problem is.

He does expect the problem to be fixed by the end of the year.

The environmental retrofit was the result of a lawsuit brought against the power plant by the Sierra Club in 1996. The owners of the power plant settled the lawsuit by agreeing to upgrade the pollution control systems in Units 1 and 2 to baghouses. Unit 3, wholly owned by Tri-State, is already equipped with a baghouse.

Part of the settlement required that Tri-State report to the Sierra Club the progress of the retrofit and environmental data.

Susan Lefever, executive director of the Sierra Club's Colorado office, said no complaints about Tri-State's compliance have reached her.

"My expectation is that if there are problems, (our attorney) would let us know," she said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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