Craig Station to house industrial-strength ammonia, addresses public safety concerns | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Station to house industrial-strength ammonia, addresses public safety concerns

Lauren Blair

Craig Station is preparing to house about 80,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia, a hazardous chemical, on site at the power plant as part of its efforts to meet regional haze requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The chemical is used to draw nitrogen oxide, a contributor to haze, out of the flue gasses emitted by the plant. The upgrade, known as selective catalytic reduction, is being completed on Unit 2 of Craig Station, one of three units operated by the coal-fired power plant.

The chemical is expected to be onsite by mid- to late July, Tri-State officials said, prompting them to hold a public, "right-to-know" meeting with local officials in Craig Tuesday about their risk management plan associated with transporting and housing the chemical.

"Any time you bring a hazardous material on site over 10,000 pounds, you're required to have a risk management plan," said Tri-State official Peter Bierbaum.

The plant will go through approximately 34 tons of anhydrous ammonia per week, Bierbaum said, which will be housed in two newly installed 52,000 gallon tanks on the east side of Craig Station.

The chemical will be transported to the plant by tanker truck, with deliveries expected about three times per week. Transport presents the highest risk of incident related to the chemical, Tri-State officials said.

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But the contracted carrier, Transportation Express, has a strong safety record, with only one accident in the last four years that involved liquid fertilizer, according to Brian Reding, truck transportation manager for the company.

Per U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, the trucks carrying the ammonia will use bypass roads around Craig, including the bypass on First Street from U.S. Highway 40 and the Colorado Highway 13 bypass north of Craig, a Transportation Express official said Tuesday.

Other risks involved with the chemical include the potential for a leak or the release of an entire tank, though either scenario is highly unlikely. But in the event of an accident, Matt Hippely with Tri-State's Hazard Materials Response Team assured local officials that trained personnel and equipment are in place to quickly deal with a potential accident.

Once used to draw nitrogen oxide out of emittants, the anhydrous ammonia is consumed in the process via chemical reaction, leaving behind no remaining chemical for disposal.