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TECO has plan to keep plastic plugs out of bay

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 scrubbers were being released into Cobia Bay.

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.

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

The state agency is considering whether to cite TECO for discharging the devices.