State-of-the-art technology in a new facility lined with thousands of acid-resistant tiles laid old-school style, are just two elements of the No. 1 Acid Plant at Teck Trail Operations that is now up and running.
The $148 million plant is an asset that the company’s general manager, Greg Belland, and Teck’s Manager of Capital Projects, Larry Doskoch, take pride in for a number of reasons, including that during two years of construction, there were no workplace injuries and the modern facility now provides a cleaner and more efficient environment for Teck employees and everyone in the surrounding communities.
“Safety is a core value at Teck,” said Belland. “Our employees and contractor partners have exemplified this value on the project, which was completed with zero lost time injuries.”
Sulphuric acid, sulphur dioxide (SO2) and sulphate fertilizer are byproducts of the Trail site’s integrated lead and zinc smelting operations and the new plant is expected to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by up to 15 per cent.
The No. 1 Acid Plant is already operating at around 20 ppm (parts per million) of SO2, said Catherine Adair, Teck’s community relations leader, adding that typically today’s acid plants produce the gas in the range of 100 to 300 ppm.
What that means for Trail residents is the acrid tasting air that comes from the release of SO2 could be a thing of the past, along with the level of plant-related noise emanating across the valley.
The new acid plant has a massive-sized blower that drives the SO2 gas through a series of enormous pipes into the next stage of processing.
The blower is housed in an acoustic enclosure to minimize noise at the plant site and in the community, explained Adair. Additional noise buffers include cladding on the building and the design placement of the building within the No. 1 Acid Plant footprint.
Containment of toxic by-products is another key feature in the new site that includes hand laid acid-resistant tiles and mortar that line a secondary containment zone to prevent a spill to ground.
“The environmental and operational improvements that this new plant provides will support the long-term viability of Trail Operations,” added Belland.
The new acid plant was completely mostly by Canadian and BC companies, including many skilled hands from the West Kootenay.
Now with construction complete, the daily operation of the facility is reliant upon sophisticated computer software.
The new acid plant is controlled via an integrated process control system which is monitored by specially-trained control room operators, said Adair. “The control room contains multiple systems and software that are monitored to ensure every aspect of the No.1 Acid Plant is operating correctly.”