Track work by CSX in Washington County in far southern Ohio has led to speculation that another use may be made of a power plant that is slated to close in two years.
But a CSX spokeswoman insists that it’s all simply part of routine maintenance and officials with the utility company that owns the plant insists there are no plans for another company to take over the facility.
The Muskingum River power plant of American Electric Power of Ohio is located near Beverly. A woman who lives near Devola told the Marietta Times that, “there are tractors, dump trucks-lots of equipment working on the tracks. I’ve lived here since 1969 and have never seen anything like it. But I can’t understand why they’re putting so much investment into the railroad when AEP is going to close and the tracks won’t be used that much.”
CSX also serve the Globe Metallurgical facility, located just east of the AEP plant.
AEP said in July that it would be closing the fifth and final unit of the coal-fired Muskingum River power plant in late 2015.
The company said it will also shut down units 1 through 4 by June 2015 in order to comply with tighter Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing the use of coal in generating electricity.
Terri Flora, director of communications for AEP Ohio, said there are no plans for other industries to take over the Muskingum River power plant site.
“I’m not aware of anything planned in relation to our plant site,” she said. “But there are obviously other businesses down the line from ours like Globe Metallurgical and there’s also a Duke Energy plant nearby.”
Beverly Mayor Rex Kenyon told the Times that there’s been no talk of a new business moving onto the AEP site.
“I’ve heard nothing, although if the AEP site could be developed for another industry we would certainly welcome it,” he said.
Southeastern Ohio Port Authority executive director Terry Tamburini also talked to some industry contacts with AEP.
“We’re not aware of anything going on in that area, but Globe Metallurgical is doing well, and as long as Globe is there the tracks would have to stay,” he said.
Tamburini said that ther is the potential for a “cracker” plant to be developed across the Ohio River in Wood County, W.Va.
“They say that facility would create more than 12,000 jobs at the site alone, and that figure doesn’t include all of the spinoff businesses and hotel, housing and other related economic activity,” he said.
A petrochemical cracker plant converts ethane from Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale natural gas, into the ethylene, a key chemical for the plastics industry.
Tamburini said maintaining rail service is a key factor in growing the economy of this area of Southeast Ohio.
Carla Groleau, communications director for CSX, said the Washington County work is part of the company’s maintenance.
“Crews are conducting routine, planned maintenance, and during this time, the teams will replace railroad cross ties (timbers) and resurface crossings as needed,” she said.
She added that CSX understands the work may impact local communities, but the work would be completed as safely and swiftly as possible.
More than 60 rail crossings are expected to be renovated in Washington County. The track is a former Baltimore & Ohio line.