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1,250-ton cooling towers head down the Hudson

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    The cooling tanks on the barge in Coeymans on Tuesday
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    The cooling tanks on the barge in Coeymans on Tuesday
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    C-GM Sarah TraftonThe cooling towers on the barge in Coeymans on Tuesday.
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    C-GM Melanie LekocevicCooling tanks on the barge in Coeymans on Tuesday
September 4, 2018 11:32 pm

One million pounds of cargo left the Port of Coeymans late Tuesday afternoon for a 36-hour journey down the Hudson River.

The barge, from Carver Companies in Coeymans, is carrying cooling towers for a PSEG power plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It passed through Hudson and Catskill on Tuesday night between 8 to 9 p.m. and is expected to arrive in Bridgeport at 3 a.m. Thursday.

“The barge will be traveling at an average speed of 6-and-a-half knots,” dispatcher Shea Fomagalli said Tuesday.

The speed of 6-and-a-half knots is equivalent to about 7.5 mph. By car, the distance from Coeymans to Bridgeport, Connecticut, is 127 miles, according to Google Maps. At a speed of 7.5 mph for 36 hours, the barge will travel about 270 miles.

The timeline for the barge’s departure shifted several times Tuesday, but left the Port of Coeymans, at 2170 River Road, Ravena, at about 5:30 p.m.

“The timeline is tentative,” Fomagalli said. “The timeline shifts based on the tides, currents and what’s happening in Bridgeport and up here.

“We monitor the wind and the weather and try to have it the barge arrive in an efficient and timely manner,” he added.

The cooling towers, or Air Cooled Condenser units, will be used to cool off the water used to generate energy, Carver Companies Project Manager Josh Kowalski said.

The barge is transporting two single-unit cooling towers that weigh 250,000 pounds each and one double unit that weighs 500,000 pounds, Kowalski said. The barge weighs 1,250 tons dry.

“The Heat Recovery Steam Generators are like a boiler system,” Kowalski said. “They use natural gas to boil water and produce energy.”

Carver sent a Heat Recovery Steam Generator for the power plant in the second week of May, Kowalski said.

“This is our fifth trip with ACC units,” he added.

Carver provided similar equipment for a historic journey Aug. 7, 2017, to a PSEG plant in Sewaren, New Jersey. Last year, an 8-million-pound generator was built at the Port of Coeymans and made its way down the Hudson River.

It is the largest structure of its kind to be built offsite in the U.S. and transported to another location, Port of Coeymans General Manager Richard Robinson said last August.

Shipping large equipment on the Hudson River has been a game-changer for construction companies.

“We’ve gotten very good at modularizing the construction industry,” Kowalski said.

Companies such as PSEG plants are faced with the challenge of not having enough lay-down area to create big pieces of equipment on-site, said Kowalski.

“It’s a safety issue to have people working on top of each other just trying to get their job done,” he said.

The Port of Coeymans has an advantage that gives the site a leg up for companies to choose it for assembly and shipment.

“We have 400 acres for lay-down and deep water docks to unload heavy cargo and we’re accustomed to making heavy things,” Kowalski said.

Sending the shipments takes several steps.

Carver gets materials from cargo ships from overseas, then unloads them with cranes and stages it in allotted areas for the tenant, Kowalski said. The tenant then accepts bids for mechanical contractors to build the equipment.

Finally, the company loads the equipment into trailers and puts them on barges to bring them to a final destination.

“We’ve made seven shipments this year, and seven to eight last year — about once ever month-and-a-half,” Kowalski said.

Carver acts as a landlord, providing space for on-site building to occur for other companies, Kowalski said.

“We have all the infrastructure in place for these projects,” he added. “It makes it very easy to transition from, say, the Tappan Zee Bridge to PSE&G.

“We also rent equipment and handle site work, such as if an area needs to be flattened or stoned.”