Green River Soda Ash Facility
The Green River Power Plant is located in Wyoming about 25 miles west of the town of Green River and is part of a larger operation known as the Granger Soda Ash Facility. The company mines sodium carbonate, which is the common name of soda ash, and processes it on site. The Green River Basin area is one of the largest mining production regions in the world for both soda ash and low-sulfur coal. The Green River Power Plant, operated by FMC Wyoming Corporation, was constructed mainly to provide power for the soda ash mining and processing operation. The plant produces about 30 megawatts of energy from its twin coal-fired boiler units and the resulting electric current is used to operate mining equipment as well as for use by nearby on-site fabrication machine shops and industrial machinery, electricity for the buildings at the mining facility and other needs; the entire operation is basically self-supporting. Generally, soda ash is quite crude in its composition and must be sifted, evaporated and crystallized. Special machinery is used in this process and the steam generated by the power plant is used in the evaporation chambers at the site. Unlike chemical methods used at processing centers, the crystallization of soda ash is performed on-site at the Granger Soda Ash Facility and the result is lower costs and independence from outside power sources. In 2009 production was temporarily halted at the Granger Soda Ash Facility because of the lagging economy; recently the plant announced reopening and processing because of the resurgence of export markets and a new demand for sodium carbonate. Asbestos was commonly found at manufacturing facilities, electrical generating stations such as Green River Power Plant, and other fabrication shops and industrial workplaces where high heat is tolerated. Asbestos is mined for its use as an insulating compound, and the fibers that make up this silicate material are an excellent flame retardant as well as shielding other materials from excessive temperatures. Asbestos can be mixed with paints and other chemicals and used to coat wires, or as a wrap for steam pipes; asbestos was even occasionally woven into clothing for workers subjected to intense heat. The small fibers that make up a mass of asbestos can easily become airborne and then inhaled by humans. When workers are exposed to asbestos for an extended period of time, a large amount of the fibers can build up in the lungs. After years in the body, the fibers interact with surrounding tissue and act as a carcinogen. Mesothelioma, certain lung tissue growths and asbestosis are now known to be caused by exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers. References:
- Gearino, Jeff. (January 7, 2011). “FMC will restart Wyoming soda ash facility.” Retrieved March 29, 2011 from the Billings Gazette.