Worker injured at Minnesota Power coal plant

A 41-year-old fuels technician has been hospitalized following an Oct. 22 explosion at Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power plant in Schroeder, Minn.

The fuel system explosion that morning was confined to the plant’s coal-storage bunkers and the worker is hospitalized at a burn center unit at the Miller Dwan Medical Center in Duluth, Minn.

“The explosion was confined to the coal bunker area of the plant and caused a number of small fires, roofing material etc,” a company spokesperson said in an email to GenerationHub. “There was some damage confined to the coal bunker area. Firefighters remained on the scene for most of the day putting out hot spots. While the plant was temporarily evacuated, the facility continued and continues to operate.”

The cause of the accident is under investigation, the spokesperson said. “[A]nytime an employee is injured it has a profound impact on our company. We are committed to the safety of our employees and are intent on determining what caused the blast,” the spokesperson said. The injured worked and his family “are in our thoughts and prayers,” the official added.

Unit 1 and 3 continue to operate, Unit 2 had been off-line at the time as part of a four-month outage.

Taconite Harbor is 225 MW plant with 3 units. The Minnesota Department of Commerce did recommend the retirement of Unit 3. “We however asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to allow for more time for us to study the impacts/costs to customers of retiring, retrofitting or re-missioning our small coal units,” the spokesperson said.

“We will include those recommendations as part of our larger integrated resource plan which we will be filed with the MPUC in March of 2013,” the official added.

Minnesota Power is part of Allete (NYSE: ALE), which will hold its quarterly earnings call on Oct. 31.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.