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10-29-02: Roof falls in at St. Marys sewage plant
The Daily Standard

    ST. MARYS - City officials are scrambling to deal with the unexplained collapse of a roof on a digestor at the city wastewater treatment plant.
    Safety-Service Director Mike Weadock told city council members meeting Monday that workers at the sewage plant discovered Oct. 22 that the metal roof had sunken in. The digestor is filled with sludge and the roof rises and falls on an elaborate set of rollers as levels of methane gas in the equipment rises and falls.
    "It was convex, it's now concave," Weadock said.
    The city can continue to treat sewage but will vent methane gas instead of trapping it to burn in the digestor's boiler, Weadock said. The city uses the methane - along with natural gas - to heat the facility which speeds the treatment process.
    Weadock could not provide a damage estimate. "I don't have a number," but the damage probably would approach $200,000, he said.
    City workers left the damaged structure intact until insurance adjusters can examine it. The equipment dates to 1969.
    Depending on what the insurance company recommends, the city might be able to convert the sewage treatment process from anaerobic to an aerobic process that uses air and natural chemical reactions to treat sludge.
    Also Monday, council members learned that two Celina companies will build the city's new swimming pool. The pool, to be built at the site of the existing pool, could be ready by late May or early June.
    "We're keeping our fingers crossed," Weadock said.
    City officials plan to award the construction contract to Shinn Bros. for $1,274,000. Total Electric was the low bidder for the electrical work at $37,000.
    The $1,311,000 total price is just $3,000 over the engineering estimate.
    Council members transferred $61,000 from the voted tax fund to the swimming pool fund to help pay for the project. City officials earmarked the tax money because among promises made when the last income tax increase was approved was for improvements to the pool. Officials later decided though, based on professional studies, that a new pool would be the best avenue to pursue.
    "I think people will be much happier with this in the long run," Weadock said.
    The remaining $1.25 million will be borrowed to build the pool.
    Council members also discussed at length the city's future electricity needs. They approved an ordinance to hire SFT Inc., Columbus, to do a power supply needs assessment for the city. City officials hope the study will help them decide how to proceed with an expected American Municipal Power of Ohio (AMP-Ohio) joint project in the future.
    AMP-Ohio is considering a major project to increase base load electric generation to serve partnering communities, Weadock said. The SFT study would look at the city's existing power supplies and supply contracts and a number of other factors in deciding how much power will be needed when.
    There is a growing need for base load generation, Weadock said, after years of cities and energy cooperatives focusing on building peak-shaving generation to meet electric needs at times of high demand.
    "The power supply is drying up," Weadock said. "Nobody is building base load generation."
    A number of factors have limited development of new power plants, he said. Investor-owned utilities are strapped for cash and environmental issues have slowed or halted other potential projects.


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All content copyright 2002
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822