Local 86 Foreman report creates new work at TVA Gallatin Plant

The heads-up inspection of deteriorating insulation at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) energy plant led to nearly four months of additional work for members of HFIAW Local 86.

Local 86 members have been working at the TVA Gallatin Combustion Fossil Plant since it was built in 1953. Established in 1933, the TVA is a U.S corporate agency, which provides electricity for business customers and local power companies, serving 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.

Since its founding, the TVA has always utilized the building trades for their various projects. In 2019, the total number of hours members of the Insulators union worked on TVA projects tallied more than 352,600 hours.

Additionally, more than $4.8 million was contributed into medical and pension funds from the work performed by members of Local 37, Local 46, Local 78, Local 86, Local 90, Local 114 and Local 207 on TVA projects.

Local 86 Business Manager Anthony Nicholson complimented the TVA and their long-standing partnership
with the Insulators Union and other building trades.

“We work together and we trust each other,” Nicholson said. “This is a special relationship, where we have a back and forth dialog about the happenings at the TVA locations and what is best for their units. They depend on the professionals and our great work does not let them down.” 

TVA Gallatin, which is located on the north bank of the Cumberland River in Sumner County, Tenn., has four electric producing boiler units on site.

Two years ago, the TVA bought two vaporizer vessels that arrived already insulated. Unfortunately, after 24-months of use, the insulation began to degrade.

General Foreman and Local 86 Training Coordinator Jonathan “Shane” Hammock, who has been working for TVA on a variety of projects since 2000, spotted this problem during an inspection of the vessels and heads.

The factory-installed insulation was one-inch elastomeric closed cell insulation and the metal jacketing was .016-inch aluminum embossed, which was falling off. Further investigation by Hammock revealed the jacketing was falling off due to the expansion and contraction of the vessels. He ultimately discovered the circumference and longitude laps did not overlap enough to allow for expansion and contraction.

The east ammonia vessel and the west ammonia vessel heads had elastomeric closed cell insulation with a vapor barrier mastic. The vapor barrier was not holding up, as the ultraviolet rays of the sun were causing it to deteriorate. Following his inspection, Brother Hammock outlined the problems in a report, which included his recommendation regarding the best way to fix the insulation problem.

His report called for the removal of the metal jacketing to allow for further inspection of the insulation. The best practice for the application was to apply smooth .016 aluminum jacketing with no circumference laps on top. The band laps would have three-inch circumference and longitude. Stainless strapping on 12-inch center with stainless clips and stainless mity spring to allow for expansion and contraction.

For the heads of the vessel, Brother Hammock recommended the best solution to be metal with smooth aluminum and quarter-inch rivets, except where the head and body meet to allow for expansion. Silicone penetrations were proposed to reduce the water intrusion, which often causes Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) in the outdoor and wet settings.

Following Brother Hammock’s report, Local 86 successfully campaigned for the work. Once members were onsite, they spent 15 weeks properly insulating the two ammonia tank vessels and four tank heads. As a result of their craftsmanship and industry knowledge, the new insulation and jacketing installed by Local 86 members is expected to last from eight to 10 years. 

“This is an example of an outstanding foreman, who understands the numerous opportunities available, providing one has the presence of awareness and a passion to make a difference,” said LMCT Executive Director Pete Ielmini. “The foreman also has the opportunities to communicate and demonstrate to the owner, mechanical engineers and contractors and other trades the importance of the properly functioning insulation. “Even a small job could have the ramifications into much larger concepts, which leads into increased work opportunities for both labor and management,” Ielmini added. 

Thanks to the great work performed by our Local 86 members, they are able to sell the benefits of mechanical insulation and the importance of its proper installation and maintenance to the TVA. Thank you to the following Local 86 Brothers who worked on this project: Shane Hammock, Carl Morgan, Joe Thomas, Chris Mullins and Don Fisher.

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