The utility, along with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) and waste cleanup company Gobco LLC, is using the Hurricane Creek gob pile site as fuel for the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC). The site is located a half-mile from the Clinch River on Dumps Creek. It dates back to 1907 when the Moss 2 mine was first being operated. As was common at the time, coal that had too much rock and dirt mixed in for power plant use was often left piled along streams and creeks.
“I have worked 40 years in the coal industry and the last 13 years overseeing these reclamation efforts. However, it was not until VCHEC came online that our company really had the opportunity to clean up some of the worse problems,” said Walt Crickmer, co-owner and manager of Gobco. “The irony is that a new type of coal-fired power station is crucial to cleaning up the waste of a bygone era in coal mining.”
Approximately one million tons of waste coal and rock were removed and properly disposed of as part of the clean-up project, with about 500,000 tons of gob coal transported to VCHEC, where it was used to produce electricity. Gobco screens out the waste coal and provides it to VCHEC for use in the plant. Gobco then cleans the site down to the original ground, covers it with top soil where necessary, slopes it as needed for drainage and replants it with special grass that supports wildlife and replants native tree seedlings.
VCHEC is a 600-MW power plant that uses circulating fluidized bed technology to burn waste coal. It can also burn biomass and currently uses the source for about 10 percent of its fuel.