TECO adding coal-delivery rail at Big Bend
APOLLO BEACH - Tampa Electric Co. is doubling its options for coal shipments by adding a rail system and conveyor belt to receive fuel for its Big Bend Power Station by train. The system is expected to be operational by December. "We have a new transportation contract to receive coal via rail instead of exclusively by ship," said TECO spokesman Rick Morera. The idea came about after coal shipments in Louisiana were stalled during a recent hurricane season, said Jason Waters, chief of compliance for the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission's air quality division."In order to be more competitive and hopefully come up with the absolute best price for coal, we're adding this option," Morera said. "At the end of the day, it should benefit the customers, and we'll no longer have all our eggs in one basket." Trains, an average of one every other day, will enter the property and dump up to 4,000 tons of coal an hour from the bottom of the rail cars onto a conveyor belt that will deliver it to the outside fuel yard. TECO is required to include a suppression system to control dust during unloading, according to a permit issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Morera said the system involves dousing the coal with water or another agent to minimize dust.
Reporter Yvette C. Hammett can be reached at (813) 627-4763.