Environmental Project at Harrison

The temporary pipes carrying water to the scrubber went into service this month.

May 21, 2019

The Harrison Power Station is in the midst of a project to decrease the environmental impact of leachate from its landfill while at the same time reducing the amount of water the plant draws from the West Fork River.

The project involves building a pipeline from the sedimentation treatment ponds that collect water from the landfill and recycling it as make-up water in the plant’s scrubber system.

“We’ve been exploring the possibility of doing this for a few years,” said Harrison Engineer Adam Hoalcraft. “It’s important that we reliably maintain compliance with the landfill discharge permit and reduce our risk of impacting to the environment.”

The first stage of the test involved trucking water to the scrubber system.

The leachate from coal combustion byproducts includes constituents of the coal that was burned. This includes trace amounts of some contaminants that, without proper management, can affect waterways. FirstEnergy regularly monitors and treats water that runs from landfills, but levels of contaminants can vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of precipitation and type of coal burned.

“We have had some contaminant levels encroaching on our discharge limits,” Adam said, “so we formed a team to investigate solutions to mitigate the current risks as well as long-term impacts. We started looking at technology solutions, but that was very expensive.”

Then they hit on another idea: using the leachate water as make-up water in the scrubber system. The scrubber, which removes sulfur dioxide (SO2) from plant flue gas emissions, is a closed system, recycling its water. Some water, however, is used up in the process and replaced by water drawn from the West Fork River.

The Harrison team began by trucking water first.

“It worked. But it meant a constant stream of trucks,” Adam said. “That’s expensive, and it had its own negative affect on the environment. So, the next step was a pipeline.”

Adam worked with Project Engineering and FE Environmental to obtain permits from the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers, and Mobile Maintenance built a temporary pipeline as a test. That pipeline went into service this month.

If the test is successful, a permanent pipeline will be installed that will deliver roughly half the water in the collection pond for recycled use in the scrubber. The other half will be retreated, making it even cleaner before release to the West Fork. The project also will reduce the amount of water taken from the West Fork for the scrubber makeup by 150 to 200 gallons per minute (216,000-288,000 gallons per day).

“Environmentally,” Adam noted, “this will be a win-win.”

If the test works as anticipated, the permanent system is expected to be in place by the end of this year.