MT Coal Plant Shuts after Asbestos Leak

Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 06:02 PM gHale

PPL Montana shut down its J.E. Corette power plant in Billings, MT, and sent workers home after a steam tube failed on the boiler and damaged asbestos-containing insulation and then a subsequent windstorm whipped up materials.

The 154-megawatt coal plant will be off-line until environmental contractors on site complete remediation and the company can evaluate necessary repairs, said Dave Hoffman, a PPL Montana spokesman.

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On Feb. 3, a steam tube on top of the boiler failed and a steam leak damaged some siding and insulation on the rear wall of the boiler, Hoffman said. He said some of the insulation contained asbestos, an insulating material known to be a carcinogen.

The company sent all workers, approximately 26 to 30 employees, either home or to its Billings office while the environmental contractors worked at the site, Hoffman said.

Workers returned when the contractors declared areas clean, Hoffman said. The employees came back “piecemeal” depending on their jobs in the plant, he said.

Then on Feb. 12, a strong wind blew around insulation and metal sheeting that had been on the side of building, Hoffman said. When the wind kicked up, the clean areas were not as easy to identify, so the company again sent workers home as a precaution for health and safety, he said.

Plans call for the plant to shut down by April 2015.

Hoffman did not know when the plant would return to operations and said it had been running at full capacity.

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