West Lorain Celebrates Environmental Milestone

(L.-r.) Guy LeBlanc, Administrative Technician Krista Pena and Combustion Turbine specialists Phil Gilbert, Cary Sager, Deb Hopple and John Socha display the station’s milestone banner.

August 2, 2018

Employees at the West Lorain Plant may be few in number, but their dedication to environmental stewardship is immense – and the proof lies with the station’s latest milestone to date. On April 18, West Lorain went 1,000 days without an environmental reportable event.

And, at this point in the summer, the station has effectively achieved more than three years event-free.

The achievement is a notable feat for the small oil-fired peaking station located near Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline, where six dedicated workers run day-to-day operations and take responsibility for the plant’s environmental stewardship.

“Their ownership is really the key to our success with environmental performance,” said West Lorain Supervisor Guy LeBlanc. “Our employees are out there every day in the station, noticing any issues that exist and following through on correcting them.”

The last environmental reportable event at West Lorain occurred July 20, 2015, when the station exceeded its Title V one-hour average limit for nitrogen oxide (NOx) stack emissions during a PJM Capacity Test.

“Our normal operating procedure when burning fuel oil is to inject water onto the flame to cool the combustion temperature and reduce emissions levels,” said Guy. “While conducting this particular test, an error occurred with our control system that resulted in the water spray shutting off, which elevated the NOx levels.”

West Lorain

The error was an anomaly. “Our next test ran without issue,” explained Guy. “However, we enhanced our alarms and installed an automatic station runback on instrumentation for our water injection system right after the event to better protect us.”

Staff Environmental Specialist Eric Richeson is West Lorain’s dedicated Environmental representative. He visits the plant each week to check on its performance and help ensure it remains top notch.

“One of the biggest risks we have as a station is related to burning fuel oil,” said Guy. “We have a three million-gallon tank that we fill by offloading oil trucks that come into our plant. Each tanker truck holds about 7,500 gallons of fuel and, under certain conditions, we can burn up to seven of these loads an hour.”

During fuel deliveries, West Lorain employees must run plant operations while ensuring the fuel is properly offloaded without spilling a single drop of oil on the ground. And, with some proactive planning, they’ve proved they’re more than up for the task.

“As a preventative measure, we have spill kits staged in all vehicles and in designated areas around the site. We also installed petroleum blockers in our storm drains,” said Guy. “They were all custom built, so they fit perfectly inside the concrete base of each drain. As soon as they detect any oil in a flow, the blockers prevent it from passing through the drain.”