American Electric Power announced the complete installation of two so-called scrubbers at its Kammer-Mitchell plant. With the scrubbers installed, the plant is reducing its sulfur dioxide emissions by 98 percent.
The cleaner process could have other effects beyond reducing air pollution. High sulfur coal of the kind mined in the Ohio Valley is the best to use with the new scrubber, so AEP officials expect they'll need more coal from local mines. The plant uses about four million tons of coal every year.
Kammer-Mitchell has entered into an agreement with Consol Energy to provide more high sulfur coal for the plant.
"As plants add scrubbers, they create a new market for Ohio Valley coal mines,'' said Consol spokesman Tom Hoffman. "The scrubbers are a key part of increasing demand for coal.''
The plant also added about 55 new full-time employees to its payroll because of the scrubbers and a system for reducing emissions known as "selective catalytic reduction.''
Work on the scrubbers, technically called flue gas desulfurizarions, led to the death of a contract employee in March 2006.
Gerald Talbert, 27, died in March 2006 when the 1,000-foot tall scrubber stack caught fire while he and other workers were inside. Talbert was an employee of Pullman Power LLC, a Kansas City company working on the plant's upgrade, which was designed to bring it in line with federal emissions standards.