September 8, 2008

Longview Developers Revise Water Cooling Plan

By Kasey, Pam

MORGANTOWN - Developers of Longview, the 695-megawatt coal-fired power plant slated to go online north of Morgantown in 2010, have changed their plan for cooling water.

Originally designed to use treated acid mine water from a nearby mine, the plant will instead pump water from the Monongahela River.

"The mine water that we were looking to use is a lot dirtier than what they anticipated," said Longview General Manager Charles Huguenard.

The first plan neatly solved several problems at once.

Nearby, in southwestern Pennsylvania, acid water had filled the abandoned Shannopin deep mine in the Pittsburgh seam. It had risen high enough to flood the overlying Sewickley seam, making coal held by Morgantown-based mining company MEPCO inaccessible.

Continuing to rise, the acid water eventually would discharge into Dunkard Creek and the Monongahela River, threatening miles of fisheries.

The plan was for AMD Reclamation Inc., a Pennsylvania nonprofit formed by Longview parent GenPower, to pump water from MEPCO's mine, exposing coal that would be mined to run the plant.

AMDRI then would treat the water and provide it to Longview to cool the power plant.

Three purposes would be served: protect aquatic habitat, expose the coal to run the plant and provide water to cool the plant.

A clarifier to treat the water was paid for in part by grants through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and in part by long-term, low-interest loans to MEPCO, which also paid the operating expenses.

AMDRI began pumping water from the mine in June 2004, well before Longview was under construction, and discharging 3,500 gallons per minute to Dunkard Creek.

As construction of Longview got under way in 2007, it became apparent the mine water was dirtier than expected.

"We found out that it was higher levels of what they call total solids in that mine water than anyone ever anticipated," Huguenard said.

Expensive additional treatment would be needed.

That's due in part to the plant's stringent air quality permit.

Longview's cooling water will have to be treated by reverse osmosis before it can cool the plant and evaporate into the air. The dirty mine water would have resulted in a high volume of rejected water, according to Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the National Mine Land Reclamation Center at West Virginia University and a main proponent of using the treated mine water as cooling water.

The new plan is to draw and treat water from the Monongahela River to cool the plant.

Although Longview is a short distance from the river in West Virginia, it will draw from six miles downriver in Greene County, Pa.

"(AMDRI's) permits are already in Pennsylvania, and we have land up there where we could put an intake structure," Huguenard explained.

Longview approached the Greene County Planning Commission inMarch about placing a treatment plant there.

Approvals now in place, AMDRI has broken ground on the treatment facility, Huguenard said.

The pipe route crosses seven or eight landowners in Pennsylvania before joining an already-established coal conveyor belt corridor to the power plant, Huguenard said. Rights of way are in place with those landowners.

AMDRI has added a second clarifier and currently pumps and treats 7,000 gallons per minute from the Shannopin and adjacent Humphrey mine; the power plant will need 5,000 to 6,000 gpm for cooling.

"It doesn't matter (hydrologically) because you're basically swapping water taking water from higher up and treating that before it gets in Dunkard Creek ... and the water withdrawal will occur downstream of Dunkard as it enters the Mon," Ziemkiewicz said.

"I'd rather it had gone forward as a pure example of using mine water for cooling," he added. "It's something that we've researched, and I still think it's a good idea."

Copyright State Journal Corporation Aug 15, 2008

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