Blast Shuts AK Coal Plant 4-6 Months

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 @ 04:03 PM gHale


Healy Unit 2 coal plant will be shut down for at least four to six months after an explosion in the plant’s coal feed system earlier this month in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The just reopened coal plant shut down March 3 when the blast occurred, said officials at the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA).

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No one suffered an injury in the fire, but it forced GVEA to shut the plant indefinitely while they determine the cause and the damage of the fire.

Just two weeks earlier, the coal plant passed its 45-day commissioning test. GVEA brought the plant back online for the first time in 16 years in May 2015 after purchasing the plant from the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority in 2012, planning to renovate and reopen it as a clean coal plant.

At the time of the fire, GVEA spokeswoman Corinne Bradish said it was too soon to tell how long Healy Unit 2 would end up closed down. After two weeks, however, the utility released information saying repairs will likely take “four to six months or longer, if needed.”

The fire in the coal feed system caused damage to the fan that transports pulverized coal dust from the pulverizer to the boiler, according to the GVEA notice. The explosion was the result of a coal “puff,” an industry term for when a heat source ignites built-up coal dust in the air, GVEA said at the time of the fire.

The cause behind the heat source that led to the fire end up determined during the closure in conjunction with the damage assessment and repairs.

The results of the investigation should be ready within four to six months.

The energy utility hopes to cut down on excessive closure time by moving up the time frame of a planned three-month closure originally scheduled for this summer to tie in new electrical equipment.