Sherritt’s combined cycle power facility at Boca de Jaruco in Cuba takes in sea water for the purpose of cooling. In recent years, the seawater intake inlet has been inundated with a brown seaweed known as Sargassum. Sargassum has become a nuisance in the Caribbean due to larger than historically recorded blooms which impact sea-life and tourism particularly because the seaweed is thick and has a foul odour when it washes up on beaches. Unfortunately, seaweed is not the only debris impacting the coastline. Man-made objects, including plastic pollution, can also be prevalent depending on tides and weather conditions.
For Sherritt’s operations, the Sargassum creates problems during water intake, fouling up integral equipment in the power facility that provides necessary power to the city of Havana. In order for operations to continue, a solution had to be engineered.
A seaweed intake channel barrier was installed to prevent the buoyant weeds from gaining access to the channel near our circulation pumps. Along with this intake channel barrier, a floating seawater basket has been implemented at one end of the barrier to allow the buoyant weeds to funnel into this basket. Once this basket is full it is then hoisted out of the water by means of a stationary hoist. Additional barriers, as well a trash rake and screens, provide added protection from any debris making it past the initial barriers.
The seaweed and debris is then collected and hauled by truck to the local landfill and disposed of properly. For example, in one month, 12 truckloads of seaweed and garbage were removed from Cuba’s waters. While access to debris-free water is an important operational consideration, we are proud to also positively impact the coastline adjacent to where we work.