• 2017 February 28

    Dustless business

    In view of prospective development of coal transshipment facilities in Russia there is a concern about environment protection which can be efficiently faced in the framework of dedicated coal terminals.

    Baltic Coal Terminal ВентспилсOne of our recent articles was dedicated to the promising exports of Russian coal and the necessity to develop port infrastructure >>>> However, it is clear that coal terminals pose an environmental threat which can be almost completely removed through application of certain protection measures. 

    The challenges of coal handling in Russia are often associated with transshipment via non-dedicated multi-purpose terminals not equipped with the required equipment allowing for environmentally friendly handling of this cargo. 

    To ensure safe transshipment of coal it is necessary to equip the terminals with wagon dumpers, conveyors and dust suppression systems. The Baltic Coal Terminal in Ventspils (Latvia) which used to transship some 5 mln t of Russian coal can serve as a perfect example. Coal is kept at closed storage facilities and is transported by a covered conveyor to the hold of a ship. The process is almost fully automated and controlled by an operator from an office. Emissions of coal into air or water are almost completely excluded. Yet, covered storage facilities have their disadvantages with higher fire hazard due to methane accumulation. Today, none of the world’s largest coal terminals keeps coal in closed facilities. Perhaps, it is only reasonable for small terminals located close to large residential areas, like Baltic Coal Terminal.

    Разгрузка угля ВентспилсAnyway, coal handling involving wagon dumpers and conveyor equipment lets stop grab discharge that causes dusting and wagon damaging. Wagon dumping areas should be covered to prevent dusting and to reduce industrial noise. This equipment is quite expensive, therefore it is not used at multi-purpose terminals or at facilities where owners are not willing or cannot ensure the required investments. As a compromise they can use cranes instead of shiploading conveyors but this increases dusting at ports.

    Among the dust suppression system there are different water cannons making a mist covering the coal dust. At the Port of Rotterdam (the Netherlands) they use special substances.

    Besides, it is necessary to install dust protection and wind-protection barriers and dust collecting systems. Magnet cleaning and crushing of coal should be done in covered premises.

    Moreover, with all these, the terminals should be located far from the residential areas.

    In reality, it is quite difficult to create a terminal complying with the mentioned requirements, primarily due to considerable investments and costs able to destroy a company economically. Meanwhile, in Russia we already have terminals with sheltered wagon dumpers and conveyors and with dust suppression systems. Among the terminals with a high level of environment protection we would distinguish a terminal at port Posiet (read more at the website of IAA PortNews >>>>), Rosterminalugol, Vostochny Port, Sakha-Trans project, etc. 

    It is obvious that coal transshipment in Russian seaports should be developed – it would be absurd to have resources that are in demand and not to have a possibility to export them. It is also clear that it is time to stop “ferine” transshipment of coal via non-dedicated terminals and to encourage investors supporting construction of specialized facilities with high level of environment protection and process safety.

    Vitaly Chernov