News

Fluor offers plant ‘outage’ jobs to 1,000

Week of meetings at VFW Hall prepares for Sandow 4 anti-pollution work
By MIKE BROWN Reporter Editor

A full parking lot of pickups on Monday at VFW Post 6525 spilled over to US 79 shoulder on Monday as Fluor met with Sandow workers. Reporter/Mike Brown A full parking lot of pickups on Monday at VFW Post 6525 spilled over to US 79 shoulder on Monday as Fluor met with Sandow workers. Reporter/Mike Brown No, it wasn’t the biggest bingo game in the history of VFW Post 6525 Monday morning.

Those hundreds of cars parked around the post home were the forerunner of Rockdale’s next big, although brief, surge of jobs.

Fluor Co. is holding orientation sessions at the hall this week for workers who will be involved in installing the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system at Luminant’s Sandow 4 power plant.

Fluor has made job offers to about 1,000 workers, according to Brian Mershon, company media relations manager.

Luminant won’t say just when Unit 4 will go offline, citing “market sensitive information” but it’s anticipated that will happen the first week in February.

The Reporter has learned prospective workers have been told the jobs will start about Feb. 1.

More contractors

Earlier Luminant had estimated a peak of 1,400 workers would be at Sandow by mid-February.

“That figure also includes the roughly 250 Luminant employees who already work at Sandow Power Plant,” Ashley Monts, Luminant spokesperson, said.

And Mershon cautioned against Rockdale residents anticipating area workers would fill all 1,000 jobs being offered by Fluor.

“About three-fourths of those are people who have worked for us before,” Mershon said.

Monts said there will be other contractors and subcontractors involved with the project, most notably Babcock & Wilcox.

Ryan Cornell of Babcock & Wilcox said the company does not have an estimate on how many employees it will have at Sandow 4.

Mershon said Fluor cannot estimate the Babcock & Wilcox employees or any others who might be needed beyond those summoned by Fluor.

“Two months”

Luminant won’t give the ending date of the project but the phrase “two months” keeps popping up in conversations associated with the work.

Industry analysts have estimated the work will last from February to April.

Monts said contractors are “coming on-site now.”

She said the new equipment is expected to be operational by June 1 but that does not mean the outage is anticipated to last that long.

SCR has been compared to the catalytic converter on a vehicle.

Combustion gas is injected with an ammonia-forming chemical which then passes through a catalyst which converts nitrogen oxide (NOX) to nitrogen and water.

Calls

The word of “jobs” caused a flood of calls to the local Central Texas Workforce Center offices, but ver y little hiring for the project is being done through that agency.

Workforce Developoment Specialist James Powell said a few support jobs, such as security guards, are going through their offices, but that Fluor has handled the hiring mostly on its own.

Consent decree

Installation of the SCR system at Unit 4 is part of the consent decree by Federal District Judge Sam Sparks.

That landmark—for Rockdale— decision cleared the way for the construction of the adjacent Sandow 5 unit, which fired up last August.

The project has its roots in a lawsuit by three environmental groups, Neighbors for Neighbors, Public Citizen and Environmental Defense.

The groups claimed work performed on Unit 4 in the mid- 1980s was more than routine maintenance and should have triggered additional pollution restrictions immediately.

As part of the settlement Alcoa agreed to shut down its three older power plant units, which were constructed in the early 1950s.

That was accomplished in 2006.

Judge Sparks also ordered additional pollution equipment be installed at Unit 4. That’s the long-standing SCR project.

Alcoa was fined and the consent decree also ordered the new Unit 5 to be running by Aug. 31, 2009, as a replacement for Units 1, 2 and 3.

In the interim, Alcoa decided to close its Rockdale smelter and sue Luminant over the cost of energy delivered to Rockdale Operations.


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2010-01-28 digital edition



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