2010 Sept. 9: CO Durango: COMMENTS on (coal smoke) New scrubber system for (antique) train would cut emissons

2010 Sept. 9: CO Durango: COMMENTS on (coal smoke) New scrubber system for (antique) train would cut emissons says… Some day perhaps clothes I put on the line won’t smell like coal smoke when I bring them in. When I do remodel work, black soot simply POURS out of dead spaces in the walls. If it’s getting in there, its getting into the lungs of everyone who lives in South Durango, where most of it blows. What’s really needed most to spur further action are some good PHOTOS of the train smoke, which quickly gets dispersed and is largely invisible except at certain hours of the day — like sunset, from Highway 3, on a calm evening.. hmmm says… Its nice to want to give tourists "perfect history" in order to make more money, but there is a reason things change and its unfair to make the Durango residents live in the unhealthy past so a private company can thrive. "And the city and county are in tight budget years, so it is unlikely they will contribute significantly". WOW. Can’t plow the roads but we can contribute to a company that has raked in millions. Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 7:36:33 AM hmmm says… Oh and lets give the tourists what they want for ONE DAY while on vacation so they can go home to LIVE in their clean air, while Durango suffers for 365! Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 7:43:15 AM Don Solomon says… Over the years, how many times have we heard this was being done? Maybe this time? It’s nice to say your going to do something. It’s another thing to actually do it. Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 7:50:15 AM New scrubber system for train would cut emissions by Shane Benjamin Herald Staff Writer Article Last Updated; Thursday, September 09, 2010 12:00AM Photo by STEVE LEWIS/Herald Martin Rutz, a welder with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, climbs down off Engine No. 482 after making some adjustments as it idles underneath one of the smoke scrubbers above on Wednesday evening at the round house. Click image to enlarge STEVE LEWIS/Herald Steve Jackson, chief mechanical officer for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, talks about the smoke scrubber in the background used to remove particulates from train exhaust on Wednesday afternoon at the round house. Jackson said the unit is one of two the railroad has. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has announced preliminary plans to install an enhanced filtration system to reduce smoke emissions spewing from the roundhouse. A study proposes spending $1.2 million on a scrubber system – essentially a hood and fan system – that captures smoke from idling locomotives parked overnight in the roundhouse. The railroad already uses a scrubber system, but it doesn’t capture as much particulates as possible, and it pulls too much air out of the roundhouse, especially during the winter, said Steve Marple, a Bayfield consultant hired to study train smoke mitigation. “I think you will see a dramatic reduction in the emissions that come from the roundhouse area as it exists now," Marple said of the proposed scrubber. Train smoke from idling locomotives has long frustrated residents living in South Durango. The smoke drifts toward the neighborhood and clouds the air. Some residents complain of a fine layer of soot coating their floors and counter tops. Some have seen their white curtains turn black. And some have mistaken the thick black smoke for a fire. “It’s a great part of town to live in, if it weren’t for that," said Vanessa Morgan, who lives in the 400 block of East Third Avenue. “It’s mostly around dinner time; I try not to go outside. It can’t be good to breathe that in." “It’s not like I hate the train; it’s a cool thing," she said. The new scrubber has twice as much capacity as the existing system and collects smoke and ash from areas not currently being served, said Steve Jackson, chief mechanical officer at the D&SNG. “This has quite a bit of bells and whistles," he said of the existing scrubber. “The new one is going to have a lot more." Since purchasing the railroad in 1998, D&SNG owner Al Harper has taken several steps to reduce smoke emissions at the roundhouse. In 2001, he installed two scrubbers at a cost of $400,000 to collect particulates from idling locomotives. In 2005, he announced a series of steps to mitigate smoke, including building an ash pit in Silverton and developing new procedures to keep engines warm at night. The railroad now uses diesel engines to move passenger cars around the rail yard. Before, it used coal-fired engines. And in 2007, Harper pledged to spend $1 million over five years to reduce emissions by 10 percent each year. He also created the Train Smoke Mitigation Task Force, which meets several times a year to make recommendations and guide pollution-control efforts. Sarah Wright, who lives on the south side and is a member of the Task Force, said one of the biggest improvements the train has made was to burn wood pellets in addition to coal at night, which has reduced smoke. The locomotives must idling at night to stay warm enough for the morning departures. “I definitely think there are improvements being made, and I’m grateful for that," Wright said. “It’s really wonderful to be able to sit on your porch and enjoy dinner again." While Harper is committed to reducing smoke emissions at the roundhouse, he’s also fiercely committed to preserving the historic nature of the locomotive. He has shied away from making changes to the historic coal-fired locomotives that travel from Durango to Silverton, said Laura Lewis Marchino, with the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, which convenes the Train Smoke Mitigation Task Force. “There’s a lot of nervousness about messing with the engines, because if they mess them up, it’s not like you can go out and buy a new one," Marchino said. In 2005, Harper said he would discontinue double-headers, thereby reducing the number of engines running in a day. But the railroad still runs double-headers on rare occasions. In an interview Wednesday, Harper said he now runs only three trains during the summer, down from four trains before 2008. When demand is high, a second engine is needed to help pull long trains up the steep mountains north of Durango. The second engine connects with the first engine north of Hermosa, outside city limits, he said. He declines to use a diesel engine to help the longer trains, because that isn’t how it was done in the past, Harper said. “I pledged to keep the history perfect," he said. “And on regularly scheduled runs, we only use coal-fired engines. That’s the way history was." Harper touted other steps the railroad has taken to offset its environmental impact, including planting thousands of trees and buying “green power" from La Plata Electric Association. The railroad has two scrubbers on the roof of the roundhouse and four hood systems that collect particulates from idling engines. The improved scrubber system would add a third scrubber, a new fan system and redesign the hoods that collect smoke inside the roundhouse. It also would add two hood systems over the ash pits, where hot ash is dumped from the locomotives. The ash pits create a “large emission event" at the roundhouse, Marple said. “The addition of the hoods over the ash pits is significant," he said. The railroad now is searching for funding for the new scrubber. The railroad would like to apply for grants, but it is ineligible for many grants because it is a private company, Marchino said. And the city and county are in tight budget years, so it is unlikely they will contribute significantly, she said. Harper said he is confident the new scrubber system will be installed within 12 to 18 months. “It’s just timing," he said, “but it’s going to happen." shane@durangoherald.com
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