Alcoa's Warrick Power Plant Turns on First Scrubber

A $500 million project to improve the environment with the installation of Wet Flue Gas Desulphurization technology (scrubbers) at Alcoa's Warrick Power Plant took a significant step forward in May when the first of four units went online. Construction started in 2005, and once completed later this year, the scrubbers will provide for a:
  • 98% reduction in Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
  • 99% reduction in Hydrochloric Acid (HC1)
  • 60% reduction in mercury (Hg)
  • 50% reduction in Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4)
  • 49% reduction in Particulate Matter (PM)

During this time, hundreds of local contractors have worked at the site constructing an integrated environmental control system at the Warrick Power Plant that will ultimately include Wet Flue Gas Desulphurization spray/absorption towers, flue gas booster fans, and support facilities.

Major physical changes at the plant include new stack configurations, slurry handling and preparation facilities, water treatment facilities to reuse Warrick Operations discharge waters, dry fly-ash handling, an electrical sub-station, and improved control facilities for the entire system. More than 25 new, permanent employees have been hired to operate the new equipment.

"This is a significant investment to reduce emissions well beyond anything required by regulation while increasing the global competitiveness of the Warrick Operations," said G. Royce Haws, Primary Metals Location Manager. "It is a strong demonstration of Alcoa's commitment to sustainability and to the future of Warrick Operations. It is securing jobs at Alcoa, increasing work for the area's construction industry, and significantly contributing to a cleaner local environment. The benefits to the region are immense."

The Warrick Power Plant Unit 2 had been taken out of production in April to allow the scrubber to be tied-in to the unit. Now that the scrubber is an integral part of the unit, it will not be possible to operate Unit 2 for production of power without also operating the scrubber. Area residents can visibly see the work of the scrubber as the process creates a white water vapor plume coming from one of the new, gray chimneys constructed alongside the familiar red and white stacks.

The Warrick Power Plant is a four-unit, 742 megawatt (MW), coal-fired, steam-electric generating facility. Units 1, 2 and 3, rated at 144 MW each, and one-half of the 300 MW Unit 4 are owned by Alcoa. Vectren, provider of natural gas and electricity to the region, owns the other half of Unit 4. All of these units were placed in service between 1960 and 1970. Of the Alcoa-owned generation, nearly all of the power is provided to Warrick Operations.

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Warrick receives positive scorecard at Annual Community Meeting

More than 75 people attended the 3rd Annual Alcoa Community Meeting, an opportunity for the public to learn about Warrick Operations, our people and our commitment to sustainability in the business, the environment and in our community.

Ann Whitty, RPD Vice President and General Manager, began the formal presentation on Thursday, April 26, at Castle High School's Auditorium. She said the annual Community Meeting is important because it provides Alcoa's leadership with information that can drive further improvement.

"We are committed to sustainability," she told the audience. "We want you to look tonight at our business from three equally important aspects - financial, environmental and social. We measure our success in each of these through the community's eyes, so that's why we welcome your feedback."

Whitty was accompanied on the stage by Scott Darling, Warrick's EHS Manager, and Royce Haws, Primary Metals Manager.

Those who attended said Alcoa has a "great story" to tell. In fact, several said they were disappointed that there wasn't a larger crowd.

"This auditorium should be packed with people," said one participant. "You've got such a good message to share."

During feedback sessions, several community members said Warrick has a tremendous, positive effect with good-paying jobs, an impressive economic impact and annual charitable giving through the Alcoa Foundation.

Audience members said they were encouraged to see so many of Warrick's leaders at the event and visible in the community. Alcoa's managers from Primary Metals and RPD attended.

Before the event, participants could mingle with Alcoa managers at booths where the metal-making process was explained and major, finished products - food cans, beverage lids and tabs, lithographic sheet- were displayed.

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Warrick Employee Named Earthwatch Fellow

Daniel Frank, an electrician in the Hot Mill at Warrick Operations, has been selected by Alcoa to serve on a scientific research expedition in the Czech Republic, where he will study mountain waters. Frank is one of 15 Alcoa employees selected worldwide as a fellow to assist scientists from Earthwatch Institute, a global organization that works toward a sustainable environment. The Alcoa employees will actively participate in ongoing research projects that address climate change, global water supply, and other environmental issues. Frank's trip is May 31 to June 13.

"I have been studying environmental science at the University of Evansville part time for the past five years," said Frank, "and this will blend right in with my studies. I can't wait to go."

Rob Bear, Alcoa's director of Environmental Affairs, said the corporation continues to take a leadership role in addressing important environmental issues across the globe. "Our partnership with Earthwatch gives our employees the opportunity to see firsthand the science of understanding environmental conditions and the connection to Alcoa's strategic programs. These employees then promote Alcoa's environmental leadership to their colleagues and communities upon their return."

This is the sixth year Alcoa has sponsored employees in the field. The fellows selected will publish online diaries at

Frank is working with Dr. Josef Krecek, a noted hydrologist who began studying the effects of acid rain before the fall of communism. He is using his vacation time from Warrick Operations for the expedition, and Alcoa will pay his travel expenses.

"I checked with my professor at the University of Evansville, and this expedition will count as my required internship for graduation. If all goes well, I will be able to graduate next year thanks to this fellowship and Alcoa's tuition aid program."

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Team from Alcoa Warrick Operations honored at International Quality Competition

A team from Warrick Primary Metals was selected to participate in an international competition at the World Conference on Quality and Improvement hosted by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The members of the team were recognized as finalists for ASQ's Team Excellence Award for boosting the Warrick smelter's current efficiency, reducing costs and increasing safety.

Alcoa's "Current Efficiency Team" included Brian Audie, Steve Borkowski, Heidi Davidson, Jason Duke, Vic Griswold, Tim Kempf, Ed Kuhn, John Martin, Donna Marvel, Mike Mazu, Joe Riepenhoff, and Steve Ubelhor. The Team was among 25 other groups selected from around the world to compete in the 23rd annual awards that highlight organizational excellence in using quality improvement tools to create significant organizational cost savings.

"This success and recognition is only possible because everyone at Warrick Primary Metals has pulled together to obtain these excellent results," said Royce Haws, Primary Metals Local Manager. "It took the work of everyone at the smelter, from supervisors to production workers, to implement and accomplish the improvements.

Current efficiency is a measure of how effectively power is used in the smelting process, and improvements with it can have a major positive affect on improving competitiveness. Through the team's work, current efficiency has been steadily increasing, nearing the practical limits. Improvements have been noted in process stability, and the team's work has resulted in other improvements, including safety and employee engagement.

"Since the mid 1980's, Alcoa has spent considerable time training employees to utilize many technical and non-technical tools," said Joe Riepenhoff, and industrial engineer at Warrick who served as the quality manager on the team. "It's clear that the investment in people consistently pays off with real business results."

The team used the principles of the Alcoa Business System (ABS) to evaluate all the key processes that would improve current efficiency. They helped implement process management to evaluate everything from the quality of materials to production practices and procedures. Every Tuesday, the smelter's team reviews performance on these 65 key process variables.

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Record-breaking Household Hazardous Waste Day

More than 900 households participated in the 30th Household Hazardous Waste Day on Saturday, May 17th shattering the previous record set in May 2007 when 749 households participated. While the final reports about how many pounds of waste were brought in, we do know that more than 300 pounds of unused/outdated prescription drugs were brought in for safe disposal through the program established in 2003 with the AARP, Tri-Cap RSVP, and the Sheriff's and local Fire Departments. Additionally, more than 11,000 pounds of electronics will be refurbished for donation to area nonprofits through a partnership with a local small business. Mark your calendars now for the Fall 2008 event scheduled for October 11th.

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Howell Wetlands

The Alcoa Foundation was recognized April 11th, during the groundbreaking of the new Howell Wetlands Education Center, for the Foundation's $50,000 grant supporting the construction of the 2,400-square-foot facility, which will provide educational, hands-on activities for school children and visitors to the wetlands, operated by the Wesselman Nature Society on Evansville's West Side.

Ann Whitty, RPD Vice President and General Manager, provided remarks during the dedication ceremony, and she was among a group of dignitaries who used ceremonial shovels to turn dirt at the site. Alcoa's partnership with Wesselman's and Howell is strong -- Howell benefited from the 2006 Worldwide Month of Service, when more than 30 Alcoans worked at the site on two Saturdays, mulching trails and repairing their grasslands. The new facility will have a large classroom, restrooms and storage for various supplies. The building will utilize solar power, and will be built with recycled materials. Vic Chamness, president of the Wesselman Nature Society board of directors, said the facility and Alcoa's donation will allow this natural resource, with more than 35 acres, to serve more people while providing educational resources.

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Future engineers learn about career options with Alcoa

Several Alcoans from Warrick Operations participated in the "Engineer Our Future" event on May 19th the offered prospective engineering students and their parents a free, catered dinner and the chance to network with industry professionals.

The goals of the program are to identify high school seniors in the region who are entering an engineering or related technology degree program and then track them through their college experience. Pamela Rosenberger, an Alcoa Ingot Metallurgist, spoke about the importance of finding internships while in college and what students can expect during their first jobs as engineers.

ECS Solutions, an engineering firm in Evansville, worked with WorkOne Southwest, the Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center, the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. and the University of Southern Indiana in sponsoring this event. Joseph Motz, engineering superintendent at Warrick Primary Metals, also helped organize the event and lead the Alcoa presence at the event where numerous students learned about our business and career options.

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