The first two 500,000-pound Chevron coke drums arrived at King Harbor in Redondo Beach early Monday morning and are scheduled to be transported to the company’s El Segundo refinery late Wednesday night, causing road closures throughout the Beach Cities.
The drums, manufactured in Spain, are needed to replace the original drums constructed in 1968 that make up the refinery’s “Coker Unit,” said Chevron Spokesman Jeff Wilson.
“The original drums are at the end of their useful life cycle,” Wilson said. “This project is very important, and to ensure the continued operations of the refinery we have to change these drums out.”
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Wilson said Chevron preferred to contract a U.S. steel manufacturer to make the drums, but there are no longer any American steel companies that could meet the size and scope of the drum specifications. The drums are a hundred feet long, 28 feet in diameter, and weigh a half million pounds each. Four more drums will arrive over the next two weeks, weather permitting.
The coke drums traveled 7,000 miles through the Panama Canal, up the California coast, and arrived at the Port of Los Angeles about three weeks ago, along with U.S. Customs officials, Wilson said. The coke drums arrived at King Harbor on a 245-foot barge and were being offloaded Monday afternoon onto the same transportation unit that moved the Space Shuttle Endeavor through Los Angeles in October.
They will be transported about 10:30 p.m. Monday from Mole B in the harbor to a staging location behind the AES Redondo Power Plant at Herondo Street and Pacific Coast Highway. The drums will then be transferred to a vehicle called a California Dolly, with two tractors that pull and one that pushes the load.
The California Dolly is over 280 feet long, with 128 tires and 36 axels. Wilson said that the California Dolly’s weigh displacement is engineered to meet the state’s highway road standards.
“Fully loaded, the dolly and tractors weigh well over a million pounds,” Wilson said. “But on the highway, they weigh less than an average truck on the road.”