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UPDATE: CPS Energy analyzing Deely coal plant explosion
By Tracy Idell Hamilton on September 12, 2013
CPS Energy’s Deely 1 coal unit will likely be down for several weeks as crews work to replace the cascade housing that was damaged in the explosion on Tuesday.
Two employees received minor injuries from falling debris. Both received first aid at the scene and returned to work.
The root cause of the explosion is still under investigation by CPS Energy. The company has spoken with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and expects to report the incident as a deviation from normal operations.
David Herbst, senior vice-president of power generation, said Wednesday that coal dust in a silo caught fire, ultimately causing damage to the cascade building, which houses the conveyor system that feeds coal into the plant. He said explosions like this are a hazard in the industry.
Coal burned in power plants is different from the charcoal people use to fire up their grills. Power plant coal dust is highly combustible. In the Deely units, CPS Energy burns ultra low sulfur (ULS) coal transported from coal mines in Wyoming, which has resulted in about 30 percent less sulfur dioxide emissions than using low sulfur coal.
During Tuesday’s incident, the plant’s fire suppression system worked properly. CPS Energy evacuated and accounted for all employees.
The cascade structure has since been stabilized. Specialized contractors are being brought in to help with clean-up and repairs.
Officials are working to determine the cost for repairs.
The plant will be off line while repairs are made. Because demand for power has eased with cooler temperatures, there is no concern for a shortage of power, and customers should not see any difference in their service.