MONROE - What does it take to build a new smokestack for one of the nation's largest coal-fired power plants?
Concrete. Lots of it. Ten thousand tons, to be exact.
At 562 feet, the Monroe plant's new stack will be another imposing figure along the western Lake Erie shoreline. But it will be in the shadow of the two 800-foot stacks that have been there for decades.
The new stack is being built so Detroit Edison Co. can deploy a wet-scrubber technology that will remove up to 97 percent of sooty sulfur dioxide emissions generated by two of the plant's four units by 2010.
Detroit Edison is still considering whether to do the same with the plant's other pair of units, spokesman John Austerberry said.
The work, being done to comply with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreement for more pollution controls, is just one aspect of Detroit Edison's $700 million upgrade, which began a few years ago at the power plant.
Selective catalytic reduction devices, which act like catalytic converters on automobiles, have been installed on two units so far to neutralize nitrogen oxide gases that cause smog. Workers began installing a third such device earlier this year. The utility is mulling whether to equip all four units with them, Mr. Austerberry said.
One 800-foot smokestack has been used for each pair of boiler units. The company hasn't yet decided whether to tear down the stack that will be taken off-line when the 562-foot replacement is done, he said.
As of yesterday, workers had poured the first 80 feet of concrete. They will continue pouring five days a week, 24 hours each of those days, until the new smokestack is finished. A truck hauling cement arrives at the plant once every 25 minutes on days when pouring occurs, Mr. Austerberry said.
The bottom 160 feet of the smokestack will have walls 22.5 inches thick. The thinnest part will be near the top, where stack walls will be 13.8 inches, he said.