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TECO has plan to keep plastic pellets out of bay

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Tampa Electric Co. plans to implement several measures to better contain thousands of plastic plugs used to clean condenser tubes at its Big Bend power plant, TECO officials told environmental regulators this week.

The power company admitted last week that an unknown number of the plastic scrubbers were being released into Cobia Bay near Apollo Beach.

In a letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection this week, a TECO official said the company would install mesh screens and a boom near the plant to make sure the devices are properly retrieved.

The company also planned to improve maintenance and advise workers of the importance of keeping the plastic plugs from spilling into nearby waterways.

TECO uses about 1.5-million of the 2-inch-long, corkscrew-shaped plugs every year to clean thousands of condenser tubes at Big Bend. For the last several months, Apollo Beach residents have been finding dozens of the devices on the beach along Cobia Bay.

Last week, Hillsborough County and state regulators ordered the power company to come up with a plan for containing the scrubbing devices, known as "pigs."

_ The Associated Press contributed to this report.