Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morgantown Powerplant, MD

On Saturday, we met with our local exploring group and took a supervised trip around Morgan Powerplant. We weren't allowed cameras inside the building so we grabbed a few shots before we entered the grounds. This power station is run primarily by coal on 2 generators as this is the U.S.'s most abundant and cheapest fuel, even though most of it comes from Columbia because most of WV coal is exported to China. It also has 6 generators that run on diesel oil if needed, but these are only used in emergencies as this fuel isn't so efficient. It was built in 1970-73 and although it has a full time crew of 190 people, only 10 are needed to actually run it.
 The red and white stacks are the diesel stacks and the large white dual stack is the one run by coal and operates continuously, (see photos lower down). The plant likes to keep about 30 days of coal in reserve but on the day of our visit, they only had 3 days of fuel left, and considered themselves to be in a state of emergency. This is due to the bad snow storm and the plant unable to receive coal by rail which it does on a daily basis. There were 18 trees per mile on the rail tracks during the storm. The coal is pulverized to a dust to create continuous explosions providing maximum efficiency. Inside there is a film of black dust everywhere, but because of the efficiency of the plant, people aren't required to spend too long on the operating floors, so we rarely saw the employees and those we saw did not wear masks, only hard hats, safety glasses and ear plugs, the same as us visitors.
These pipes take the coal from the river to the plant where it is crushed. They are enclosed so that none spills into the river. The plant makes a tremendous effort to be environmentally friendly and has reduces its dust particles by 99%, removes 98% of SO2 from the air (sulphur dioxide which creates acid rain), reduces carbon monoxide, has a new materials handling system, a new dual flue, a new waste water treatment system and a new desalination plant, all of this control equipment costing around $1.6 billion.
We were allowed up on the roof which offered fabulous views and we sneaked a few shots. The surrounding area around the plant looked spotless and well maintained and it was evident that our guides were proud to show off their power station.
The tour was excellent but it was almost painful not being allowed to take photos inside the building. We are so used to seeing rusting industrial equipment with peeling paint, cracked dials and seized levers, and then to see all this equipment running with the dials working, it was torture not to be able to record it. Regardless, I avoided the temptation, kept my iPhone in my pocket, and just absorbed the atmosphere and energy.
Once we left the site, we then went to a local bar and crab house on the water to have lunch.
 Mark did a great job of annihilating the crackers before our food turned up! Once our appetites were sated, we went back outside and explored a small abandoned power plant building.
Everybody's tripods came out and the place quietened while we set up our cameras that we'd been itching to use all morning. 
There was also a pretty beach area covered with oyster shells and driftwood.
Emily missed this dead gull, but because I am aware of her obsession with photographing any dead animal that she finds, I kindly set about grabbing a few shots that I could pass on to her and maybe dedicate to her on Flickr!
I managed to get this awesome character shot of Barb astride a hilltop as the afternoon faded. When the sun started dropping to the horizon, we regrouped for farewells and promises to meet again soon, and then headed in different directions to faraway homes and computers waiting for downloads.

1 comment:

hemcoined said...

The coal is pulverized to a dust to create continuous explosions providing maximum efficiency. i agree with this stuff.