By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
The Alaska Railroad Corporation and Aurora Energy Services, LLC have signed a compliance order with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation over two alleged violations of air quality regulations concerning dust emissions at the Seward Coal Terminal. The compliance order (based on two Notices Of Violations dated April 13, 2007 and March 13 2008) imposes a $212,900 civil fine of which $165,000 will apply as mitigation for the cost of implementing three required supplemental environmental projects (SEPs). The Railroad and Aurora also must pay ADEC all of its fees and expenses incurred by the state in connection with the investigation and enforcement of the violations over the past three years, and until the projects are completed.
The required SEP projects are:
Installing multiple high pressure spray bars inside the chute on the tail section of BC1-BC10 with multiple nozzles that make small water droplets which are better able to attach to fine dust particles than large droplets; Having multiple spray bars operating will help control the uniform wetting of coal. All of the water lines leading to the spray bars will be heat traced to allow for winter operation of the system. A flow meter will be installed to gauge to measure the amount of water added. Meanwhile the existing spray bars on BC 11 will remain as backup in the event that more moisture is needed to be added to the coal.
Adding a high pressure pump and flow meter along with new spray bars at the end of the boom on S/R. All piping will be heat traced from the onboard storage tanks to the spray bars to allow for winter operations. This high pressure spray system will better adhere to the smaller dust particles sometimes produced during reclaiming and stacking operations. The current spray bars can not produce this high pressure mist.
Sealing up the chute between the trailer conveyor and boom conveyor on the stacker/reclaimer and adding a fogging (mist) system inside the chute. The sealed chute will allow the dust generated during the transfer of material through it to be contained, and the fogger will help settle out fine particulate matter created during the transfer process.
In addition, the settlement order mandates ARRC and Aurora to maintain all of its new coal dust mitigation equipment, controls and systems; to monitor all ship loading, railcar unloading, or stockpile activities at the coal terminalincluding the date and time of all activities, wind speed and direction, and to specify which activities generates coal dust, and the activities done to stop it; and to immediately report any noncompliance. It sets in place streamlined procedures for public complaintsand must immediately investigate and report all complaints about coal dust to ADEC. (* complaint procedures info)
ADECs attention was called to the alleged air quality violations by the Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance in Seward which has a live monitoring web cam on its office building, and has been observing operations at the facility. Between Feb-April 2007, ADEC received 25 public complaints and 75 photographs purported to show coal dust being emitted into the ambient air and being deposited on adjacent properties, vessels, and in Resurrection Bay. In response, ADEC personnel investigated on site, and observed the same phenomenon first-hand. Among other evidence, they discovered nonfunctioning bag houses that were originally meant to collect dust, and spray bars that were inoperable in the freezing temperatures. In both cases, DEC investigators concluded that the railroad had violated Alaskas Air Quality Control regulations. The settlement agreement makes clear however that the order should not be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing, or to be an admission of any fact or legal conclusion on the part of the railroad or coal facility.
Its a great milestone. I am gratified with the progress at the facility. It acknowledges the magnitude of the problem and creates an ambitious plan to minimize fugitive dust in the future, said RBCAs activism director Russ Maddox. Now that these enforcement cases are settled under the existing regulations, hopefully our stalled efforts to codify tighter fugitive dust regulations will now move forward, if not by administrative channels, then we will initiate legislation in the next session.
- Larger than usual coal pile April 18 awaits barge March 29 and mid-June. Twelve ships are expected in 2010 or 800-840,000 tons
(*The ARRC Complaint procedures:
Deliver a written complaint directly to the Coal Loading Facility offices at 903 Port Avenue in Seward. Normal business hours are 8-5 M-F, but when ship-loading operations are occurring, AES staff are present virtually around the clock. Due to safety concerns during operations, hand delivery should be made only to the business office, not elsewhere on the grounds of the facility.
Deliver a verbal or written complaint to the following ARRC or AES managers, who are often on-site during coal handling operations:
AES General Manager (currently Rob Brown) (907-378-3529)
AES General Foreman (currently Vic Stoltz) (907-224-5697)
AES Officer Manager (907-224-3120)
ARRC Director of Facilities (currently Paul Farnsworth) (907-265-2540)
Leave a message on ARRCs dedicated phone line (907-265-2374) or email firstname.lastname@example.org (contact information is also posted on ARRCs website). These are routinely checked during normal business hours and forwarded to the facility for response.)