Storm causes significant damage to conveyor at Falkirk Mine

The fuel supply at Great River Energy’s largest power plant was interrupted after a severe thunderstorm with straight-line winds rolled through McLean County in North Dakota on June 29. The storm caused significant damage at Falkirk Mine which supplies coal to the plant.

Coal Creek Station’s fuel reaches the plant by way of a long-distance conveyor. A recent storm caused significant damage to the conveyor system that delivers fuel to Coal Creek Station.

Coal Creek Station’s fuel reaches the plant by way of a long-distance conveyor. A recent storm caused significant damage to the conveyor system that delivers fuel to Coal Creek Station.

The most significant damage occurred when the conveyor from the second crusher to the silo was destroyed. This immediately interrupted coal deliveries to Coal Creek Station via the conveyor system. The mine will rebuild the conveyor, but that process could take about six months. As a result, the Falkirk Mine began trucking coal from the mine to the emergency reclaim pit at Coal Creek Station. That process will continue until a temporary conveyor system is installed (although to meet demand, some coal will still need to be trucked to the plant site). Coal Creek Station has also used coal from its own stockpile.

“Since the storm event, our employees are now providing coverage 24/7, with more time devoted to moving coal on-site with heavy equipment and working with coal that isn’t crushed to the size we typically receive for processing. We are working as a team to address challenges with this new scenario,” said Todd Gehring, leader, fuel system, at Great River Energy.

During this time, the Falkirk Mine, in coordination with Coal Creek Station staff, has been able to supply all of the coal needed at the power plant.

The storm also destroyed three of the eight fans on one of three cooling towers at the plant. Three new blade assemblies were installed, three new shroud assemblies were hoisted into place and three drive shafts were installed and aligned.

“Following the storm, crews worked around the clock on repairs in order to bring the cooling tower back into service as quickly as possible. That included 12-hour shifts, both day and night, to complete the repairs in three days. Staff came together during a critical time and made a unified effort to restore the cooling tower back to normal operation prior to any hot weather the first week of July,” said Ethan Vaagene, leader of turbine maintenance.