Monday, July 09, 2007

Deep Sea discharge regulations on our Mediterranean coast

Dear Colleagues

Last week I received a question/ a request from an experienced power plant engineer from a country on the Mediterranean coast, Greece. My colleague says that he was interested to find some data about the seashore (Mediterranean) located power plants - based on public references. Specifically, he would like to know what would be the temperature rise in the seawater cooled condensers? Is there any environment protection law in Turkey that limits this value (or the maximum discharge temperature)? What he would like to know, as "neighbors" on the Mediterranean Seashore, if there is any environment protection law in Turkey limiting the temperature of the power plant discharge cooling seawater (or the temperature increase). Such laws are in effect in the USA, Japan, and since Turkey has recently built seashore power plants and this is the reason he would like to try to look for an answer there.

I asked my trusted friends to help me to answer the question. One of my experienced friends who worked in Jubail Desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, shared his experience. Saudis have a big desalination plant in Jubail. They pump huge amount of desalinated purified waster to Riyadh city almost 400 km west of Jubail. Desalination plants have also thermal power plants nearby. The Gulf sea water in Jubail, which would be approximately at 34-36 degrees Celsius, is used in water cooling systems of the thermal power plant. The plant operators first pump the outgoing discharge water into an artificial pond/ lagoon to dilute the hot water with ambient sea water to reduce the water temperature. That pond has approximately 2 km diameter in construction. He told that he caught lots of fish each with approximately 2 kg in weight within 2 hours of boat sailing, since hot water was a quite comfortable place for tropical fauna.

Another friend of mine advised me to review the “Water Pollution Control” Direction of Turkish Ministry of Environment, dated 31st December 2004 numbered 25687. On Table 22-23, it is clearly stated that sea water discharge is limited to 35 degrees Celsius. However whatever would be the dilution rate, Sea water can not exceed 35 degrees Celsius, and moreover During June- September period, Deep water sea discharge can not be increased more than 1 C degrees, in all other months it can not be increased more than 2 degrees however if seawater is less than 28 degrees Celsius then seawater deep sea discharge can be increased not more than 3 degrees Celsius

Still, my foreign colleague is not satisfied, and he stated that he doubt that the Turkish Power Plants on the Mediterranean shore are cooled with only 1 to 3 degree Celsius seawater temperature increase. Under such a strict condition they need huge seawater flows!!!

He thinks that the thermal power plants on Turkish Mediterranean coast should have special permits since they cannot meet the conditions of the Direction. Moreover the hot water at the plant discharge could allow some nice tropical fish to live in such as big size dangerous sharks, etc.

Still, he says that he doubts that the Turkish Power Plants on the Mediterranean shore are cooled with only 1 to 3 degree Celsius seawater temperature increase. Under such a strict condition they need huge seawater flows!!!

We should not get provoked immediately. We need to review situation in cold blood, in cool mood.

We really wonder if the imported coal firing SUGOZU 2x 660 MWe Thermal Power plant in Yumurtalik meets that environmental condition.

It is my sincere feeling that the thermal power plants in Aegean, Marmara, Black Sea coasts can meet and satisfy that discharge temperature limitations since the overall seawater temperature is quite low there.

I personally feel that imported coal firing thermal power plants are not suitable for our country, since they have “energy supply risk” as well as they bring ash/ sulphur/ CO2 emissions/ dirt and huge pollution to our sea ports. They also block the development of our local indigenous lignite.

We really wonder if our authorities make regular / periodical sea water discharge controls on SUGOZU.

Isn’t that thermal power plant owned by Oyak group of Turkey with Siemens and Steag of Germany?

Another friend of mine who worked in the local site management of the subject thermal power plant disclosed the following information. That is almost 7 years after groundbreaking at site. Plant is in smooth operation, getting imported coal from Columbia and generating electricity for the country and earning money for the investors. However when it was the time they applied for “Environmental Impact Report”, the design parameter was based on limitation of sea water temperature not more than 35 degrees Celsius. However that is not possible with the existing average sea water around the thermal power plant. So decision makers advised that the existing direction would be modified in time to be in parallel with the design parameters. Therefore the existing power plant water Deep sea discharge should exceed the limitations.

Life on seashore in on a delicate knife edge natural balance. If you increase the seawater by 2 degrees at almost a random time frame, the creatures, flora and fauna cannot fit their lives into new conditions. They do not live with Ministerial directions. They have their own natural directions. They do not live in hot springs. So only the fittest creatures will continue to survive, they are single cell planktons. All other fish species are endangered. New bigger and dangerous creatures are invited, such as sharks and others. The return to the early stage would take centuries.

There is no deep sea water injection that is purely direct water injection to the ambient sea water. We normally retrieve cool water from deep sea and discharge the outgoing plant cooling water into sea surface.

My friend who worked in 11 x 400 MW Shoaiba (Saudi Arabia) Thermal power plant, says that water is taken from -25m of Red Sea at about 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, and with 7degree Celsius maximum temperature increase it is discharged at 29 32 degree Celsius which is almost the same temperature at sea surface. Each unit consumes approximately 57,500 m3/hour, total 632,500 m3/hour sea water is pumped in cooling process. That is said to be minimum effect to the sea life. That much sea water in chlorine then all planktons inside are eliminated, and treated with “residual chlorine” and delivered back to the sea water. Any statement saying “No impact on deep sea water life” is absolutely meaningless.

For Sugozu 2x 660 MWe thermal power plant, our nearby seawater temperature is 28 degrees Celsius average. The water cooling circulation per units is estimated to be 55,000-60,000 m3/hour, so the temperature increase should be around 10- 11 degrees Celsius in single pass cooling. That yields a discharge water temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.

There is also one more issue this time in cooling, the cool water sea discharges in LNG gasification stations in Marmara Ereglisi at Sea of Marmara and in Aliaga Sea Terminal at Aegean Sea. This is not deep sea discharge but immediate discharge at the coast line from “Open Rack vaporizers” at 3-4 degrees Celsius. This discharge at 3-4 degree Celsius starts decomposition of the fauna and flora and creates huge decomposition smell at the coast.

We need to check where we make the discharge, at what temperature changes, at what distance and at what dept of the sea. We talk about Mediterranean Sea, also Sea of Marmara and Aegean Seas, not a river basin. Any temperature difference as low/ or high as 1-2 degrees Celsius will make some creatures in more advantageous and some creatures at less advantageous situation.

We certainly are in a unique position to change natural laws and are doing so every day we enter the science lab or the engineering workshop. That is our inalienable right and has been since the first fire was lit and the first wheel rolled down the hill. We do this in the name of progress.

We create genetically modified crops which are resistant to disease and pests. We cut down forests of the trees which help to purify our atmosphere. We are at present cloning humans to make available a ready supply of bodily transplant material which will enable us to attain an age far beyond our prescribed three score years and ten.

When we look back into history and you will see Nature had a way of redressing the balance of population explosion. Plagues, wars, floods, fires were all in their turn applied as brakes to restrict the ever-growing masses crowding this tiny orb we call Earth. Scientists discovered vaccines to combat disease, peacemakers ended wars, engineers designed flood gates, fire-fighters fought the blazes of the forest.

Progress will be the downfall of mankind unless we raise the barriers and declare:
"No entry, you have reached the limits of civilisation"

We are getting too clever for our boots and our toes are beginning to pinch.

We need a sensible cobbler to stretch the leather before we are crippled with the bunions of progress.

We are not in position/ nor have any right to change the natural laws of the world, otherwise we pay back dearly.

Your comments are always welcome


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