Pollution board takes steam out of Rourkela steel

Rourkela Steel Plant closed down one of its sinter units and a boiler in the captive power plant (CPP) on Monday after the state pollution board refused to allow them to function any more.

According to RSP sources, the closure will cut down its steel production by about 40%. The plant produces at least 7,000 tons of hot metal (liquid iron), 6,300 tons of crude steel and about 5,800 tons of finished steel daily. Closure of the MP Boiler-3 will force the RSP to manage with just about 120 mw of power generated from its other unit of 1983 make in the CPP.

The pollution board had listed the sinter plant-1 and boiler as causing a high level of pollution and had ordered the RSP on December 19 to shut them. The board did so only after issuing repeated warnings to the Central PSU, keeping them under watch for over a year.

After receiving the board’s order, RSP CEO G S Prasad had rushed to Bhubaneswar and requested to let them run the unit and the boiler in view of the larger interest of steel production. Prasad also told the board that the authorities had already planned a series of modernization works, which would not only augment the plant’s production capacity but also cut down the pollution drastically. But the pollution control board put its food down and refused the back down on its order. It agreed to consider the RSP’s request only after the latter obeyed its order.

Left with no choice, the RSP executed the board’s order on Monday and made a presentation to this effect here before the board. RSP CEO said efforts are on to curtail the pollution level in both the units. He said steps have been taken in SP-I to restrict use of micro-fines, replace both the exhaust systems, put double-cone, double-acting valves in place to prevent leakage, replace the suction hood ducts, ensure injection of steam over the sinter bed to improve ESP efficiency and increase the hearth layer thickness to reduce emissions. Use of calcined lime will be taken up shortly in the process, which will ensure reduction of generation of sinter fines. Old ESP will be replaced by a new one by June 2013, he said.

On the MP Boiler-3, he said certain plans are in the pipeline. These include use of 100% premium grade low-ash coal, installation of new ESP at an investment of Rs 13 crores, reducing the emission level to the prescribed norms and limiting power generation only to the extent of meeting the plant’s critical load, till the installation of a new ESP.

“The RSP said it has already started using high grade coal and showed the results recorded from December 24. We are sending an expert team to Rourkela on Tuesday for physical verification of RSP’s claims. The findings of the team will be examined before taking further decision,” pollution control board member secretary Sidhant Das told TOI.

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