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New rectification electro-filters utilized last week at local power plants have significantly improved air quality in Narva and its surroundings and marked another step to fulfillment of the EU environmental directives.
"After the old filters were replaced, the air quality in Narva has substantially improved. Emissions of ashes to Finland and Russia have decreased," said Ants Pauls, director general of Narva Power Plants.
The filter replacement program started in 1996 and required 433 million kroons (30 million euros).
Presently all the working power-generating units of the Estonia station - part of the Narva Power Plants' complex consisting of two stations - have new electro-filters that reduce ash discharge by a factor of 10 compared to the old filters.
EU demands on environmental management called for having the discharge facilities of Estonia's largest power stations complex rebuilt by 2005 and the ash disposal zones by 2009.
Gunnar Okk, CEO of Eesti Energia, the national power engineering monopoly, said he has two strategic goals for the sector: to preserve the oil- and shale-based power engineering industry and to support the social-economic situation in the northeastern region, which receives most of its revenues from power engineering and oil-shale mining.
"Eesti Energia and Narva Power Stations must also prepare for serious competition after the EU accession and opening of Estonia's power engineering market," said Okk.
Alstom Power, the company that installed the new filters, called Narva Power Stations one of their key clients since 1996 when the decision to renovate the power stations was taken.
According to Okk, the next steps to fulfill EU demands are renovation of the eighth power-generating unit of the Estonia station, installation of new filters at the Baltic station (second part of the Narva Powers Plants complex), closure of ash disposal area number two at the Baltic station and replacement of ash transportation system.
"After that Estonian power engineering will be competitive, and the European Union will receive a new kind of fuel [oil-shale] in addition to the bituminous and brown coal," said Okk.