Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Oct. 23

Navajo Generating Station set to decommission in four phases within next five years

NGS Trainer Ron Waline gives a tour of NGS to visitors from NAU. (Photos/George Hardeen)

NGS Trainer Ron Waline gives a tour of NGS to visitors from NAU. (Photos/George Hardeen)

PAGE, Ariz. — What do you do with all of the pieces and equipment of a power plant once you decommission it?

According to Joe Frazier, plant manager at Navajo Generating Station (NGS), once decommission is complete, 90 percent of NGS will be recycled or reused, including its concrete.


A visitor looks at the fireball inside the boiler at NGS. (Photos/George Hardeen)

To prepare materials for recycle, the plant must first go through a four-phase decommission process, which Frazier calls DDDR — decommission, decontamination, demolition and restoration. Decommissioning of the plant will begin mid-November, once all operations cease. The company has five years to complete the process. Frazier believes it will be completed in three years.

“We have five years, our current schedule is showing three years, we plan to be done in three years,” he said.


Once NGS’s turbines stop spinning and its stacks go cold, Frazier said employees will begin the process of de-energizing the plant.

“That involves draining all water, fluids, lubricants and chemicals of any kind and venting all steam from the thousands of pipes throughout the plant as we would do during a unit overhaul. This process involves “air-gapping,” cutting and removing physical sections of pipes, cable or electrical line so that no connections exist anywhere,” he wrote in a recent column.

Their target date for completion is April 1.


Employees will also work to decontaminate the plant removing materials like asbestos and chemicals that were used in plant operations.

“Most all of the asbestos is gone but everything needs to be sampled again to make sure it is or isn’t,” Frazier said.

All asbestos will be properly disposed of and chemicals could be repurposed at other power plants.

“The site will be clean when we leave,” he said.

This will take six to nine months to complete.


Once de-energizing and decontamination is finished, NGS can safely turn the plant over to its contractor, Tetra Tech, the program manager overseeing decommissioning, for demolition.

Actual demolition is expected to take approximately two years. During this time the three iconic 750-foot stacks, a landmark for the past 45 years, are expected to come down.


Unit 3 of the Navajo Generating Station undergoes scheduled maintenance. (Photo/George Hardeen)


Reclamation and final restoration of the plant site will be the last phase. This will include final closure of water and evaporation ponds, and re-grading and re-seeding the land to return it to its original state.

Once decommission is complete, SRP will turn the land back over to the Navajo Nation.

“There will be a point in time when we actually surrender the land back to the Navajo Nation,” Frazier explained. “At that time, everything will be done. It will all be reseeded and graded properly and will look just like the Mesa did before with the exception of the buildings that the Navajo Nation decided to keep. “

The Navajo Nation has decided to keep the large NGS warehouse, which was built in the mid-90s, the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad track and bed, the lake pump station and the administration and maintenance buildings.

SRP will continue environmental monitoring of the plant site for the next 30 years after its retirement.

Total cost of decommission has not yet been determined, according to SRP spokesman Scott Harelson.

“We do not have an estimate yet for total decommissioning costs. We are still working to select and then procure the various contracts/contractors that will be required to complete the process,” he said.

Job fair

Tetra Tech and other contractors will sponsor a job fair Oct. 21 at the PERA Club, 445 Haul Road, Page, Arizona. The job fair will provide information on what jobs are available through plant retirement/decommissioning and qualifications that are required.

Items to be recycled or repurposed can be purchased by both employees and the general public at The Investment Recovery website at Investment Recovery has partnered with a consignment company to sell many of the stock-coded items and tools. More information is available at

Additionally, Frazier stated that NGS has many assets that have more value as a donation to local non-profit organizations and our local schools, chapter houses and charitable organizations. He said NGS plans to present items to the Page Fire Department, Page High School, Coconino Community College, the Navajo Nation, the city of Page and the Williams Historical Railroad Museum in Williams, Arizona.

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