CONSOL Leads Tour of its High-Tech Treatment Plant

Morgantown Dominion Post
12 July 2013
By David Beard

Tucked into a valley on Dents Run Road above Mannington is a wonder of technology that transforms acid mine drainage into water pure enough to drink.

CONSOL Energy guided members of the press on a tour of its Northern West Virginia Water Treatment Facility on Thursday morning before a dedication ceremony.

Seven pumping stations send water from CONSOL’s three local mines — Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge and Robinson Run — through a 34-mile pipeline system to the treatment facility that sits roughly at the center of the three operations.

The plant is about 100 yards wide and about four times as long. The water from the three mines is collected in a giant raw water tank where it begins its journey through the plant’s outdoor portion.

The pretreatment stages remove scale-forming minerals — calcium, magnesium, silica and such — from the water, said Director John Owsiany.

Lime and soda ash stored in silos are added to the muddy-looking water that churns in an aerator. The water flows to a round clarifying tank where the sludge is collected. The cleaner, swimming-pool-blue water circulates around the outside of the tank and goes to another where aluminum is removed.

The system can handle 3,500 gallons a minute, said Klete Kutrovac, one of the engineers who oversaw the plant’s creation. The water heads inside the metal-sided building where it passes through a set of filters before heading into seven trains of reverse osmosis (RO) filters.

Each train holds 31 RO cylinders about 10 inches in diameter and 15 feet long.

About 85 percent of the water that comes out of the RO trains is drinking-water quality, Owsiany said. The water is so pure, freshwater fish can’t live in it, he said. CONSOL adds some hardness to it and pumps it to the Hibbs Run Reservoir where it works its way back into the Monongahela River watershed.

The rejected 15 percent is sent for more treatment. It’s pumped outside to a thermal evaporator system where the solids are drawn off. The evaporated water is channeled to a heat exchanger to warm the water that goes into the evaporator.

The solids are handled in a two-story garage area called the Dewatering Building. On one side, the mixed salt falls like snow into a dump truck. On the other side, the pretreatment sludge passes through a long, blue plate-and-frame press.

Slabs of cappuccino-colored sludge plop from the press’ flaps into another waiting dump truck.

The plant can process 5 million gallons of water per day, and each day, Owsiany said, about 100 tons of pretreatment sludge and 150 tons of mixed salt are hauled to the onsite landfill where multiple liners and other protections, along with a leak detection system, contain the waste.

The process is controlled through Apple iPads. A central control room with a series of giant computer monitors controls the flow of information passing through five gray boxes called HMIs — human-machine interfaces, each featuring its own monitor — and six iPads around the plant.