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Shiras Steam Plant demolition moves forward

The Shiras Steam Plant located along South Lake Street in Marquette is shown. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Officials provided an update on the Shiras Steam Plant demolition project during Tuesday’s Marquette Board of Light and Power Board of Directors meeting.

“Right now, they’re still working on the coal combustion residual project. They’re moving along pretty fast on that,” MBLP Executive Director Tom Carpenter said. “We’re going to shortly get some bids to take the old fuel tank down, so that we can add our new substation control house on the north side of the substation. … Everything is still in motion … (but) we’re moving along.”

Recently, the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority denied MBLP’s request for a reduction in disposal rates for the large piles of dirt-coal and coal-ash mixtures at the site, Carpenter said. Officials are looking for ways to use the piles for “beneficial reuse projects” such as road projects to help save ratepayers money, he said. Whatever can’t be recycled or reused will go to the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority, he said.

A demolition contractor will be needed and the MBLP will soon send requests for proposals out to seven pre-qualified contractors. The MBLP plans to select a contractor in August, and Carpenter said there is “a real healthy interest in the project.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed aspects of the project, but when demolition operations begin, most of the work is done by individual machines, where one person is in their own environment, which allows proper social distancing guidelines and requirements per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said. While some of the interior work entails removing asbestos, workers will be wearing protective suits, Carpenter said.

The first phase of the project had involved handling around 14,000 tons of the dirt-coal mixtures that lay in large piles next to the plant. Another 7,000 to 8,000 tons of coal ash or “ash muck” has also been cleaned up, Carpenter said in a previous Mining Journal article. With the first phase mostly done, the second phase will involve the actual dismantling of the facility. The entire demolition project will take up to 12 to 18 months, Carpenter said.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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