PWCS to take dust more seriously

PORT Waratah Coal Services is proposing to introduce water spray systems on coal handing stackers and bucket-wheel reclaimers to control dust at its new Newcastle terminal after Nathan Tinkler raised the issue of dust affecting nearby residents in his unsuccessful bid to develop his own port.
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Image courtesy of PWCS.

Lou Caruana

PWCS’s dust mitigation strategies, outlined in its Terminal 4 (T4) environmental assessment which is about to go on public exhibition, will cover the proposed site on Kooragang Island as well as its existing Kooragang Island and Carrington terminals.

PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said there was a clear community expectation for the company to do more on the dust management front.

“Our approach to dust management moving forward is the culmination of consultation, dialogue and survey activity with the community over a long period,” du Plooy said.

“But if those around us think we are a big part of the problem there is an onus on us to show that we are listening and responding.

“The bottom line is the community wants us to raise our dust management bar to another level and we are doing just that.”

All T4 stackers and reclaimers will be fitted with atomised water soaking technology.

Traditional cannon water spray systems that douse coal once it is stockpiled will also be used.

A predictive and reactive intelligent dust management system to trigger stockyard water sprays will also be installed. This system uses real time weather information obtained from onsite weather stations and the Bureau of Meteorology, enabling timely activation of stockyard sprays during dust risk periods will be applied, the company said.

Weather information is also used to gauge water content on coal stockpiles to determine if more water is required. On-site real time dust monitors activate sprays when dust levels exceed specified levels. This system is fully automated, but can be operated manually if necessary.

PWCS proposes to install water dust-suppression sprays in all train dump stations (where coal is released into underground bins from arriving trains, ahead of being conveyed to stockpiles).

These sprays will be activated automatically during the unloading process.

It will also be introducing water-spray systems onto ship loaders, which will mitigate the possibility of dust lift-off as coal is loaded into vessels and installing extendable ship loader spouts, enabling coal to be released deeper in the holds of ships so that coal dust lift-off is reduced.

PWCS said it would be installing conveyor wind guards on T4 yard and shipping conveyors, where practical. Such guards would assist in preventing dust lift-off, particularly when coal is moving at high speed on conveyor systems through wind.

It would also be installing cladding on all conveyor belt transfer houses (where coal is redirected by being transferred from one conveyor belt to another).

All T4 transfer houses will be cladded – or enclosed - to minimise the escape of airborne dust particles during the belt-transfer process.

PWCS would also be installing and commissioning six real-time dust monitors at its Kooragang coal terminal site during March. These will measure dust levels continuously and be linked to the stockpile spray system, enabling a spray cycle to be activated when dust levels exceed specified levels.

These six new monitors will supplement PWCS’ existing air monitoring network, which includes four real time monitors at Carrington coal terminal, and a system of onsite and offsite (residential areas) dust gauges and high volume air samplers.

Du Plooy said PWCS would undertake further consultations and survey work with the community with an emphasis on dust management.

“As part of this we also hope to inform the community about PWCS’ dust management practices that are currently in place,” he said.

PWCS currently has planning approvals to load 145 million tonnes of coal into export vessels per annum.

Subject to planning approvals, the multi-billion dollar T4 proposal would add approximately 120Mt of coal loading capacity.