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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canada: Rotors destined for nuclear power plant slide off barge into Saint John harbour

Two huge turbine rotors destined for New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear generating station are lying on the bottom of Saint John harbour after they somehow ended in the water as they were being loaded on to a barge Wednesday.

Initial reports that said the barge had capsized were not true, said Mary Keith, a spokeswoman for Irving Equipment. "We don't know what caused these pieces of equipment to tip into the water," she said.

No one was hurt in the morning incident, but officials of Worksafe New Brunswick were called in to investigate.

Eaton said the investigation could take up to a week.

Heather-Anne MacLean, a spokesperson for NB Power, said the 107-tonne rotors had recently arrived from Siemens in the United Kingdom and were due to be installed during the refurbishment of the reactor at Point Lepreau.

In fact, last week the utility issued an update on the $1.4-billion refurbishment, which included a notice that the turbines had arrived.

"In preparation for its arrival, officials from NB Power, Siemens, Irving Equipment, Atlantic Towing and representatives from the local community met to plan the movement of the equipment to ensure its safe and efficient delivery to site," the update stated.

MacLean said it's too early to determine the fate of the rotors, which were under 10 metres of water. The utility, he added, has a contingency plan to keep the project on time.

"We have the older turbine rotors still on site and we could use those in the interim," she said.

Officials did not have any immediate dollar figure on the cost of the incident, or who might have to foot the bill.

The rotors are the central portion of the generators that spin to create electricity.

By late afternoon, port officials said there had been no environmental problems as a result of the incident. The barge was tied up at a wharf by the end of the day.

The refurbishment project has been underway since March and is intended to extend the life of Atlantic Canada's only nuclear power plant by 25 years.

The entire project is scheduled for completion by the end of September 2009.

(Source: Canadian Press)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doh! A reminder of the high amount of skill involved in things we take for granted like moving large industrial parts around.