McGinnis plans floating synfuel plant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003


South Point-based McGinnis, Inc. has requested a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to build a one-of-a-kind synfuel processing plant along the Ohio River on company-owned property in Coal Grove.

The new facility would create 10-15 jobs and could be ready for operation early next year.

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Russ Painter, regulatory affairs manager for McGinnis, Inc., said the plant would take coal that is already on power plant barges and mix it with a polyvinyl acetate copolymer mixture that increases the BTU of the coal, making it more valuable as a fuel source.

Painter said the plant would initially be stationed at Coal Grove, but the company hopes to later acquire air permits that would allow it to be moved up and down the Ohio River. The company has already received an air permit to install from the Ohio EPA.

"A good percentage of power plants have permits to burn synfuels. It just makes sense, instead of constructing it on the ground, to take the facility to the different plants," Painter said. "Right now these synfuels are mixed on land. We would be doing away with the land side of it."

Painter said that to his knowledge, there is not any other floating, mobile plant of this kind anywhere in the country.

The proposed mobile synfuel production plant would be mounted on two six-cargo barges, connected together end to end. The processing plant would consist of a diesel fuel storage tank, a maintenance/generator building, an office, a 150-ton crane, two coal hoppers, a binder applicator, a briquetting unit and five conveyor systems, according to written information provided by the Corps of Engineers.

Painter said the proposed facility would have a maximum capacity to process 500 tons per hour, and that amounts to approximately one barge load every three hours.

Painter said company officials hope to hear by mid-December whether or not the Corps of Engineers will issue the permit. Once the permit is issued construction of the facility would take a couple of months, and could be finished by early February and go into operation immediately afterward.

"It benefits the community, with tax revenue (and) labor. There are people out there who want this service and we would be glad to provide it to them," Painter said.

The synfuel processing plant would operate 24 hours a day and would employ crane operators, machine operators, maintenance personnel and

diesel mechanics, with an estimated annual payroll of $1.5 million.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Specialist Susan Fields said the government agency received a completed application for the plant

Oct. 27. The 30-day public comment period will end Dec. 10. After that, Fields said the Corps of Engineers will conduct a thorough review of the plans and the proposed plant's impact on the the area's history, endangered species and the environment as well as the community. The permit would be issued after the analysis of this information.

Interested parties may address their comments to the Corps of Engineers' office in Huntington, W.Va.