Eskom has suspended the employees involved in a maintenance operation that caused an explosion at problem-riddled Medupi Power Station. It appears a shortcut in safety protocols caused the incident.
Damage to Medupi Unit 4 generator. Source: Twitter
The blast, which extensively damaged the Unit 4 generator, occurred while the unit was on a short-term outage (since 6 August 2021) to find an external leak.
During the operation, hydrogen, which is used as a coolant in generator, was purged and displaced with carbon dioxide and air respectively. "Following the power station preliminary investigation, it appears that while performing this activity air was introduced into the generator at a point where hydrogen was still present at sufficient quantities to create an explosive mixture, which ignited and resulted in the explosion. It also appears that there was a deviation from the procedure for carrying out this activity," Eskom said in a statement.
As such the power utility has placed those employees who were responsible to manage and execute this work under precautionary suspension pending the conclusion of the major event investigation.
Fortunately no injuries were sustained by personnel who were on site during explosion. Emergency services attended to seven employees requiring treatment for shock. Eskom will continue to provide support to the employees who might have been affected by the incident through its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
The explosion caused Medupi's Unit 5 to trip, and Eskom is working on bringing it back on line.