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Pipeline removal project underway at Morro Bay Power Plant

Greta Mart
The Morro Bay Power Plant is one half mile from Morro Rock.

The owner of the shuttered power plant in Morro Bay says it has resumed work on a long-term pipeline removal project. The Texas-based company Dynegy owns the Morro Bay Power Plant, which created electricity from natural gas until it was decommissioned in 2014. In fall of 2015, the company hired a contractor to conduct underwater surveys of the pipelines in preparation for the current work. 

Dynegy spokesperson David Byford said before the power plant ran on natural gas, it was fueled by oil.

“The work being planned and is underway to an extent that really focused on removing some oil pipelines that haven't been in use at the plant since the mid-1990s. That's when the plant was converted to natural gas,” Byford said.

With a start date of Oct. 1, the company plans to “pig and flush,” two underwater pipelines - sized 16 inches and 24 inches - that extend from the plant, under Morro Dunes and to the ocean north of Morro Rock. According to the city of Morro Bay, the “pipelines were originally used to transfer bunker oil from oil tankers moored at the pipeline terminus berths to the tank farm storage on shore.”

Starting this week, a work boat called the Surveyor will be moored off the coast and some new water tankers positioned at the plant, Byford said.

“All of the work is restricted to more than 3000 feet off shore and on the power plant property itself,” Byford said. “So it really shouldn't be any impacts to the public.”

A notice on the city of Morro Bay’s website reads, “All residual material from the pipes will be contained and treated onshore, and after completion, the pipelines will be filled with clean seawater and sealed for future removal.”

As for the future of the plant itself, with its three skyscraping smokestacks, it’s unclear whether the plant is still for sale - Dynegy is vague on specifics.

“We often get questions on what's next for the plant. I don't have any longer term information for you right now but we're we're committed to keeping you and the local stakeholders informed,” Byford said.

Work on the pipeline removal project is going to continue far into 2018, says Dynegy.

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