Consol continues preparations for new water treatment facility
January 28, 2013 ·
Consol Energy has nearly completed building a water treatment facility in northern West Virginia, to address chloride levels discharged from four of its underground mines. The company says everything is moving well and in some cases, ahead of schedule.
The water treatment plant is in the final phases of construction, before it’s scheduled to start operating in May.
Consol is spending nearly $200 million, according to information from a consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Protection, to build this facility near Mannington, which is located in Marion County.
This plant will keep 20 people working full-time and will be using a method known as reverse osmosis technology to treat chlorides discharged from its mining activities.
"I would expect by April, we would be running the plant, more than not," said John Owsiany, water systems and operations director at Consol. He says he expects commissioning to be completed by the end of May.
Owsiany says this operation comes not only with a large price tag, but with a high number of people involved.
This includes permitting experts, construction project land development teams, mining personnel who understand water management and others who are the boots on the ground at the site, making sure the bricks and mortar arrive on time.
Owsiany says the plant will be able to handle a lot of water in a short amount of time.
"The plant has a designed capacity of 3,500 gallons per minute. I think roughly it’s about 5 million gallons a day," said Owsiany.
Water is going to be brought into the facility from a pipeline, and will go through a various number of processes as it’s being treated by the reverse osmosis technology.
This includes pre-treatment to make sure it can run through the plant properly as well as the actual reverse osmosis process.
This technology takes total dissolved solids out of water.
"The whole process is really known as, when you think of the plant conceptually, it’s known as a zero liquid discharge facility. Because when water comes in, you get pure water out, and that’s it. There is a solid byproduct, but there is no other liquid waste stream that has to be handled," Owsiany said.
Then after this reverse osmosis occurs, the clean water continues through the plant for final conditioning, and the saltier water, which contains the dissolved solids, goes somewhere else.
"What we do, we take that stream, and that has to go through an evaporator, where we drive off more of the water, and that as it gets less water content, and higher levels of dissolved solids in the remaining liquid, that then goes to a crystallizer where all the water is driven off and a solid byproduct is produced," said Owsiany.
Consol entered into a consent decree with the DEP, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency in March 2011, to settle over the Dunkard Creek fish kill.
Thousands of fish and other aquatic life died there in 2009, when a golden algae bloom wiped out everything.
Some environmental officials say mining discharges contributed to the conditions that allowed the golden algae to bloom there.
Kathy Cosco with the WV Department of Environmental Protection says Consol had to get specific permits to do the work.
"Probably the biggest task was to take the current NPDES which are their water permits, these are the permits that allow them and set the parameters for their water discharges from their mining activity, those permits had to be modified," she said.
"We had to modify each mining site water permit to allow them to pipe it to the new facility. There were some additional permits that they needed. They had to construct a landfill as part of the water treatment process, because reverse osmosis creates solids, which then have to be handled appropriately," she said.
And that wasn’t all they needed.
"They had to obtain some underground injection control permits; there are kind of a two-fold purpose for those. One is during the process of building a pipeline they had to pressure test it and they had to have a place to dispose of the water they used in those pipes, and ultimately their fail safe, or back up plan, should anything happen to the reverse osmosis treatment plant is to use an underground injection control site to discharge their water if they have an emergency situation where they can’t do it through the plant," said Cosco.
Cosco says the company has done a good job of meeting all of the agency’s deadlines in the two year time period it has had to get ready for the opening.
"They have been very cooperative with the agency in providing us the information that we’ve asked for, they have done everything in a very timely fashion. Throughout this process, they have laid 33 miles of this pipeline, and throughout the process the DEP only had to write one notice of violation, on the company, and that was over a sediment and erosion matter associated with the pipeline," Cosco said.
"Consol has had the right attitude and taken the right approach and are doing what they need to do to make sure this is being done appropriately and correctly."
Along with the money for the treatment plant, Consol was ordered to pay $500,000 to the Division of Natural Resources to help restore the fishery and $5.5 million to settle Clean Water Act violations.
When the water is finished moving through the plant, it will be discharged into the Hibbs Run reservoir, according to Owsiany. Consol has applied for a permit.