MPW’s Pierce, Tolbert serve as instructors at POWER-GEN workshop

On December 4, Justin Pierce, MPW Director of Engineering and Manufacturing, and Brad Tolbert, Industrial Water Sales Director, joined three other industry experts in instructing a workshop on closing coal ash ponds. Titled From Start to Finish: Closing Coal Ash Ponds, the pre-conference workshop was part of the POWER-GEN International Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Pierce and Tolbert discussed the water-treatment phase of ash pond remediation, including the removal of total suspended solids (TSS) removal and total dissolved solids (TDS), metals reduction and effluent monitoring.

The workshop was designed for an audience of operations managers and engineers responsible for coal-fired power plants, including environment, health and safety professionals; risk management and compliance professionals; consulting engineers; contractors; regulatory officials; and academic faculty and researchers.

Pierce examined the role of MPW equipment, such as the Mobile Ballasted Clarifier, in these processes.

Justin Pierce, left, and Brad Tolbert present at a POWER-GEN workshop.

“Pond closures that have been successful have started on the project early, they’ve had engineering-design teams onboard from the get-go, allowing the utility to be a part of the design process,” Pierce said.

Tolbert highlighted the importance of collaboration and communication among the facility and contractor teams.

“Being able to process enough water and keep the areas in which the civil contractors are working dry and accessible is a hurdle that the water-treatment company has to overcome,” Tolbert said. “You have to size the equipment large enough to deal with large rain events that you could see in a closure project.”

Other key points from Pierce and Tolbert’s presentation included best practices for the planning phase of the project, the importance of a contractor establishing a single point of contact for communications and the proper use of logistical services to avoid problems like utilities failing to reach equipment.

“Presenting at a POWER-GEN workshop is a terrific opportunity for MPW to get in front of some important players in the industry and display our expertise in the field of water treatment,” Tolbert said. “We took advantage of the chance to share ideas with other industry leaders and to network with potential clients and vendors to consider future business opportunities.”

The other instructors for this workshop included: AECOM Vice President Mark Rokoff, Moretrench Chief Dewatering Engineer Greg Landry and Frontier Water Systems Chief Technology Officer Tim Pickett.

This workshop educated attendees on the range of options for closing coal ash ponds and the technical implications of each, emphasizing cost effectiveness as well as schedule and risk reductions. Instructors explained the process for decommissioning coal ash ponds, from the regrading of onsite materials and the installation of an impermeable cap to the benefits of pumping and treating of ponded and interstitial water before closure. This workshop also included a discussion on the use of biological treatment to reduce selenium and metals, which can potentially prevent plant shut downs. In the end, attendees learned how to develop comprehensive closure plans for their ponds amid a regulatory environment that continues to evolve.

According to its website, POWER-GEN International is the world’s largest power generation event, providing comprehensive coverage of the trends, technologies and issues facing the generation sector. More than 1,400 companies from all sectors of the industry exhibit each year to benefit from the exposure to more than 20,000 attendees.

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