United States Steel, Wellington Coal Wash Plant
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This page was last updated on February 4, 2019.
United States Steel Corporation completed its Wellington coal preparation plant in March 1958. The plant was located along the D&RGW mainline one and a half miles south of Wellington. The plant blended the coal from U. S. Steel's Sunnyside, Utah, and Somerset, Colorado mines to produce a better quality of coal for coking at the Geneva steel plant, by washing the coal to reduce its ash and sulphur content. The plant was built on a 1,500 acre site and processed all the coal mined in Utah and Colorado by the coal properties of Columbia-Geneva Steel Division, United States Steel Corporation.
November 10, 1957
The grading for the yard at the washing plant was done by Morrison Knudsen. Allen & Garcia Company of Chicago built the washing plant. The plant was built on a 1,500 acre site and processed all the coal mined in the properties in Utah and Colorado of Columbia-Geneva Steel Division, United States Steel Corporation. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 10, 1957)
(The site selected at Wellington was on farm land 1.5 miles southeast of the already existing coal preparation plant and tipple of the Knight-Ideal Coal company, which trucked its coal from its No. 1 mine in Coal Creek canyon, and its No. 2 mine in Dugout canyon, both 15 miles north of Wellington. In May 1958, Knight-Ideal installed a new washing, drying and blending plant adjacent to its existing tipple in Wellington.)
March 24, 1958
United States Steel Corporation completed a coal preparation plant one and a half miles south of Wellington. The plant was built by Allen & Garcia and opened on March 24, 1958. The plant blended the coal from U. S. Steel's Sunnyside, Utah, and Somerset, Colorado mines to produce a better quality of coal for coking at the Geneva steel plant, by washing the coal to reduce its ash and sulphur content. (Sun Advocate & Helper Journal, January 2, 1975, p. 8)
U. S. Steel sent one of its Alco model S-6 locomotives from its shut down Oliver mines in Minnesota, to the Wellington coal wash plant. It was seen en route on D&RGW at Minturn on July 20, 1982. (Glen Anderson, email dated November 5, 2011)
U. S. Steel shut down its coal mining activities in Utah in 1983-1984, including the Wellington coal wash plant. In a reflection of the environmental concerns, and its planned exit from Utah by U. S. Steel, the State of Utah issued a reclamation permit on January 17, 1984.
The Wellington wash plant was in continuous operation from 1958 until 1985, when U. S. Steel sold the site, buildings, rail yard and locomotives to Kaiser Coal. After 1985, the facility was operated by Kaiser Coal.
U. S. Steel sold the Wellington coal preparation plant to Kaiser Coal Corporation, along with its coal property at Somerset, Colorado. The U. S. Steel coal mine at Somerset had been idle since December 22, 1985, after having produced 897,000 tons during 1985. Kaiser announced that it would keep the Somerset mine closed, but keep the Wellington plant in operation, and that it would continue to supply metelurgical coal to the Geneva steel plant. (Coal Age magazine, February 1986, page 13) (U. S. Steel closed the Geneva steel plant on August 1, 1986)
Kaiser Coal sold the Wellington plant site in 1989 to Castle Valley Resources, a subsidiary of Nevada Electric Investment Company (NEICO). The site was operated by Castle Valley Resources as a coal loadout for the Genwal mine in Crandall Canyon, owned by Genwal Coal Comapny, another subsidiary of NEICO. (NEICO purchased Genwal in 1989 as a joint venture with Intermountain Power Agency to operate the Crandall Canyon mine and furnish coal to IPA's power plant near Delta.) (Documents on file at the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Permit C0070012)
Castle Valley Resources filed as a corporation in Utah on December 29, 1989. It was last renewed April 17, 1996.
NEICO was a direct subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources of Reno, Nevada, with another Sierra Pacific subsidiary, Nevada Power, providing retail electric service to approximately 566,700 customers in Clark County, Nevada. Another Sierra Pacific subsidiary, Sierra Pacific Power, provides retail electric service to approximately 302,000 retail customers in northern Nevada and northeastern California, as well as natural gas to approximately 110,000 customers in northwestern Nevada. Sierra Pacific Power also provides wholesale electric power from its North Valmy Generating Station near Battle Mountain.
March 23, 1995
NEICO became sole owner of the Wellington site, at the same time it sold its 50 percent interest in the Genwal mine in Crandall Canyon to Andalex Resources. The sale had first been announced on December 12, 1994, and the sale was approved after the required regulatory review and 30-day public notice. The Intermountain Power Agency retained its 50 percent interest in the Genwal mine.
In about 1996, a company called Earthco leased the property from NEICO and in 1997 Earthco demolished the former U. S. Steel wash building and coal load out as part of its reclamation activies at the site.
Earthco became the focus of a Time magazine investigation of abuses of a synthetic fuels "synfuels" tax benefit that rewarded new technologies meant to change coal to usable fuels, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and methane gas. The Wellington coal wash site was one of at least ten sites nationwide that served as sources for feed stock, known as coal fines, to produce these synfuels. (Time magazine, October 13, 2003, "The Great Energy Scam")
In February 1997, Earthco leased a portion of the Wellington site with over 2 million tons of coal fines to Covol Technologies, which in turn processed the coal fines on-site for use at its synthetic fuel plant in Price. A dispute over property title developed in November 1999 after Earthco attempted to sell the Wellington site to Covol. The suit was settled in September 2000, with Headwaters leasing the property directly from NEICO. At the same time, Covol Techologies changed it name to Headwaters, Inc., as part of its much larger worldwide interests in alternative energy sources.
NEICO retained ownership of the entire Wellington site, but continued to lease the 30 acres where the coal fines were located to Covol/Headwaters. At no time did Covol or Headwaters own or lease either the rail yard or the two locomotives. The lease, and option to purchase, held by Headwaters, apparently ran out in 2002 and a reclamation bond for over $4 million was taken over by NEICO for use in any future reclamation of the site.
As of November 2006, NEICO still owned the property."NEICO, a wholly owned subsidiary of NPC (Nevada Power Company/Sierra Pacific Power Company), owns property in Wellington, Utah, which was the site of a coal washing and load out facility. The site has a reclamation estimate supported by a bond of $4.8 million with the Utah Division of Oil and Gas Mining. Currently, management is continuing to evaluate various options including reclamation and sale. At this time management does not expect the cost of reclamation to be in excess of the $4.8 million bond." (SEC Form 10-K, dated March 16, 2005, Sierra Pacific Resources)
Crude By Rail
Beginning in 2013, the site of the Wellington coal washing plant was used as a transloading site to load crude oil from the Uinta Basin from trucks to rail cars.
(See also: Utah Geological Survey's publication Survey Notes, v. 47 no. 1, January 2015)