Nova Scotia Power says that asbestos removal at its Trenton plant could take five to 10 years and there is still no end date in sight.
Asbestos removal costs at Trenton alone are an estimated $2.1 million and the total bill for cleaning that plant, together with the Point Tupper and Tufts Cove stations, is an estimated $40 million.
Asbestos at all three plants was first installed as thermal insulation for pipes, boilers, ducting, fire‐proofing and as equipment gaskets and packing.
“We comply with applicable laws and regulations that require us to have a management plan to safely complete the abatement and the program is supported by plant Joint Occupational Health and Safety committees, which have had input into the revised practices,” said NS Power spokesperson Tiffany Chase in an email Wednesday.
In a letter to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board dated Dec. 28, NS Power said that asbestos removal at Trenton has been ongoing since 2009. The entire furnace section of one boiler was cleared of asbestos during the Baghouse installation that year.
However, unplanned abatement work arising from refurbishment projects that revealed
asbestos insulation also contributed to removal costs.
This work occurred during planned or unplanned generating unit outages. Asbestos abatement has been completed within the planned unit outages, when possible, to mitigate the unavailability of the generating units, according to NS Power.
“To access and complete much of the asbestos abatement work, staging and enclosures have been constructed multiple times over the years to address various pipelines or different sections of pipe along the same pipeline,” said NS Power in its letter to the NSURB.
Building such staging and enclosures forms a big part of asbestos removal costs.
Such enclosures must include safety signage, be maintained under negative air pressure to prevent dangerous asbestos fibres from spilling out, have an airlock, clean room, shower area, decontamination room and a holding area for waste. Furthermore, polyethylene sheeting that is at least 0.15 mm thick should be used to construct them.
Nova Scotia Department of Labour regulations say that “where removal of friable asbestos is performed, a glove bag must be used, or a temporary enclosure must be constructed to prevent asbestos fibres from leaving the work area.”
NS Power also said that it will use the new asbestos risk ranking matrix to identify any problem areas at Trenton and the other two power plants.
It will map out asbestos abatement work based on factors including the status of piping, work required to complete plant repairs and upgrades during planned unit outages and the length of the required outage.
The matrix shows distinct abatement areas within the three power plants, with the costs for abatement expected to vary by area depending on factors such as its size, how much staging and preparation is required and pipe size, among others.
Every year, abatement will be planned and completed on a priority basis to maximize time and resources required to complete the work in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
“We are currently developing cost estimates based on the new practices and validating them with a third party. We expect to have all the estimates complete by March of this year,” said Chase.
While there is no set end date for asbestos removal in Trenton or Point Tupper, NS Power says the cleanup of Point Tufts is expected to be finished this year.