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Future of LRP Coal Domes Explored

 

Auger and Central Cylinder

 

The two coal storage domes, an integral part of the Lamar Repowering Project, have sat empty and idle for several years north of East Maple Street. Per a settlement agreement, the City of Lamar owns them and they have been offered for sale.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, informed the city council, there has been an interest in the domes and the Project facility, which is south of the domes across from East Maple.

Coal Shuttle from Train Car into Dome

The Lamar City Council was given a tour of the domes, inside and out, by Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh. The tour was part of the council’s work session prior to their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, September 24th.  Sutherland said, “This is a look at what you now own, on behalf of the City of Lamar.”

Inside the North Dome

The north dome is being used for storage. The spacious and dark interior houses several Light Plant vehicles.  Once you become accustomed to the lack of light, a visitor becomes acquainted with the main equipment, an auger which is horizontal to the dome’s floor and runs from the edge of the inner wall to the base of a cylinder in the middle of the dome, approximately fifteen feet tall.  The operating plan called for the dome to be filled with coal which would be transported by the auger to an underground conveyer belt.  The coal would be crushed at another location and transported to the boiler by a shuttle which spanned East Maple Street.  The auger wasn’t up to the task.

Coal Conveyer Belt

The second dome did function, but only after a silo was constructed inside, by-passing an auger. The coal was dumped into the silo which then fed the underground conveyer, transporting that load to the crusher.  This is some of the equipment that is currently on offer.  Hourieh explained that the base of the dome is constructed of concrete three feet thick, while the topmost section is one foot in thickness.  The outer layer of both domes in covered in lengths of a vinyl sheeting similar to material used in an above-ground swimming pool.  If and when sold, both domes would have to be demolished and transported to a new destination.  The city currently has four years left on a five year agreement with Arkansas River Power Authority, ARPA, to dispose of the domes at ARPA’s cost.  If there is no sale, the financial responsibility for removal reverts to the city.

Train Car Entrance to Dome

During the council meeting, Sutherland explained that there has been an offer from ARPA to demolish the domes for the city. This would be compensation for the city’s donation of its natural gas powered boiler used before the conversion to coal.  “We have a nibble and a down payment has been mentioned and the entity is looking at financing to complete the sale.”  Sutherland explained that ARPA has had an offer for the rest of the plant so the city might expect to see a demolishing crew sometime in the future.  ARPA stated it would be more cost efficient to take down the entire project at one time and clear off the property.  He said the alternative would be to have the city continue to try to sell the domes within the remaining years.

Silo in South Dome

Lamar Mayor, Roger Stagner, suggested a scenario in which the equipment was leased, but only for a couple of years or up until the five year span had lapsed, then the cost of demolition again reverts to the city. “I don’t have a problem with the removal at all, but we want to protect the city’s financial interests.  It would be good to have a long term lease,” he said, adding that there is no guarantee of that happening in the near future.

Crushed Coal Conveyer to Boiler

The council agreed there are some financial details between ARPA and the city that need be finalized regarding the settlement suit, something they’d like to see spelled out in a written agreement before ARPA decided to disband as a power broker for its six municipal members. The sale of the Repowering Project’s construction bonds to Tri-State G & T is still being negotiated.  The council plans to invite ARPA Executive Director Rick Rigel to a future meeting or work session.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedTransportationUtilities

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