Power Plant Explosion

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No details yet, but an Electric Power Plant in Tampa, FL suffered an as yet unexplained explosion early this morning. 1 dead, 11 injured.

-- Sheila (sross@bconnex.net), April 08, 1999


Looking for info...this was on MSNBC's local FL site. Don't know which plant had the problem though.


Power companies request conservation TAMPA, April 7

 Floridas utilities now have enough reserve power to handle higher than normal temperatures. But at least one, Tampa Electric, is still asking the public to conserve, at least by bumping up the thermostat a couple of degrees.

Unseasonably hot weather has more air conditioners running more often. At the same time, the company took electric generation units off line for routine maintenance.

Carla Gipson and her children cooled off Wednesday at Tampas Picnic Island, in part because she couldnt rely on her air conditioner to chill their house. I normally keep my air set about 75, Carla says.

She signed up for TECOs Load Management conservation program, which temporarily cuts off her air conditioner when demand is heavy. It happened Tuesday. Last night I turned on my ceiling fan and turned the AC down to 70, so it would keep cool during the night. Carla got caught when temperatures shot up, while too many power generation units were down.

Mike Mahoney of Tampa Electric says even though there is enough reserve on hand now, We think its still prudent to encourage customers to voluntarily cut back usage during the peak hours between 4 and 7pm.

Common sense, he says, should rule. At the very least, it will save customers money, reducing the electric bill. Here are some tips to help conserve energy: -Raise the thermostat five or 10 degrees; keep the temperature constant -Close drapes and blinds to reduce heat inside the house -Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed -Minimize use of major appliances -Turn off water heaters until needed, shut off outdoor lighting, pool pumps, and sprinklers -Keep cooking and bathing to a minimum

-- Roland (nottelling@nowhere.com), April 08, 1999.

http://wire.ap.org/?FRONTID=HOME&SITE=FLSAR and go to national news. Power Plant Blast Kills 1, Hurts 20

TAMPA, Fla. (AP)  A powerful blast rocked an electrical generating plant this morning, killing one worker and injuring at least 20 people.

The explosion, heard miles away, tore a huge hole in a wall at the Tampa Electric Co. power plant at Port Sutton, on the edge of Tampa Bay southeast of downtown Tampa.

Debris could be seen filling a yard at the plant outside of the hole.

The blast came as a generator was being tested, and a hydrogen gas leak was suspected, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

At least 20 people were taken to hospitals, said TECO spokesman Mike Mahoney. Four of the injured were critically burned and taken to Tampa General Hospital.

The plant is just off U.S. 41 about two miles southeast of downtown Tampa, across an arm of Tampa Bay from Tampa's port.

It is TECO's second-largest power plant and employs about 250 people, 190 of whom were there at the time of the blast, Mahoney said.

No power interruptions to electrical customers were reported.

-- Online2Much (ready_for_y2k@mindspring.com), April 08, 1999.

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/ts/story.html?s=v/nm/19990408/ts/ utilities_explosion_1.html

(for educational purposes only)

"The plant consists of 6 coal-fired units with a total capacity of 1,270 megawatts.

According to industry sources, unit 6, which was already shut for maintenance, was the unit affected. However, the other five units were shut down." (snip)

-- Deborah (infowars@yahoo.com), April 08, 1999.

Or try http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/040899_blast08_12.htm for the same info.

That's horrible that one died and 20 were injured. Also, just when we'll be needing every power engineer and worker the most.

Well, that's three power plant explosions in three months. I'm not counting transformer fires, those are to be expected since PCBs were outlawed. Three is definately way off the bell curve. It will probably be a day or so before the amount of damage is clearly stated but anything that can blow out a wall and be heard miles away doesn't sound too good. If these three are all coincidences, well, I just find that impossible to believe at this time. They STILL don't know what happened at the KCPL Hawthorne Station and that occured in Feb. Of course since the place was destroyed by the blast what is there to find?

One the good news side, I can give you a second hand report that a major midwestern power company did a very unusual experiment and it suceeded. This is VERY good news for power staying up during Y2K. They were able to operate in a stable manner a turbine generator with its own power while it was not connected to the grid. If islanding is going to suceed, this type of experiment should be done by other power plants. This company is one of the EPRI $75,000 embedded chip information sharing members, so I'll assume that news of this is winging its way around the country to the various power stations. This was the smallest (oldest) of a 5 unit plant. They are planning to to try the same thing with the largest (newest) unit soon. Perhaps by May I'll be able to report some more good news.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), April 08, 1999.

Ken, many thanks for the informative post.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 08, 1999.

If you don't feel comfortable disclosing the name of the utility, would you please list the region/state? Thanks!

-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), April 08, 1999.

Sir I am hesitant to correct you; but there has been four power house explosions with-in the last say eight months. You disallowed the Gary ,Ind. explosion which took out the turbine. (and it sounds like the Fla. explosion will have the same type of damage also to the turbine). The next was the Ford Dearborne plant explosion. (It was their on site generation plant which exploded). Then the Power house near Kansas City which destroyed it's boiler (the safty valve interlocks failed to open the pressure valve at the top of the boiler). I am impressed at the increasing number of explosions (way more than usual) involving the refineries also Dutchman

-- Dutchman (electric@shock.owee), April 08, 1999.

Two things. First this is from Dick Mills on synchronizing a generator with the grid:

"If we do it wrong in a real power grid, the result is truly violent. So-called missynchronization can result in explosions, fires and many millions of dollars of damage."

Second, euy2k has a thread on this. I suggest that we check often for updates.

Explosion at TECO this morning


-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 08, 1999.

PacifiCorp has begun turning clocks ahead to 2000 for testing. I interviewed a local rep. last week and she said they would turn them all forward in the fall and leave them there. http://flash.oregonlive.com/cgi-bin/or_nview.pl?/home1/wire/AP/Stream- Parsed/OREGON_NEWS/o0318_PM_OR--PacificCorp-Y2K

The refinery explosions in California give one pause. I have read that it is cheaper to build a new refinery than to test all the embedded systems. Read today that only one non-functional refinery remains in CA. Prices are supposed to start dropping again.

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), April 08, 1999.

See?? Ya gotta be real careful when ya roll the system clook past 12-31-99!!!

-- Lurker123 (A Lurker@geewizz.com), April 08, 1999.

Hey guys,

If you count the Power Plant Explosion in Brazil, the explosion at the Ford Plant and the other explosion in Florida earlier in the year (I believe it was not a generating facility but other field equipment) the total rises to more like 7 explosions.

-- Slammer (Slammer@NoSpam.Com), April 08, 1999.

Sad. And outside the "norm," IMHO.

Gas prices in Northern California are still high, even though one of the three refineries down, Exxon, (maintenance & repairs) is supposed to come back online a.s.a.p. Paid $1.65 for regular this morning. A month ago you could find specials for .75 to .99 cents per gallon.

It's not just Y2K that can cause "disruptions" and lifestyle readjustments.

Got alternatives?


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 08, 1999.

Latest Update...


Thursday April 8 12:24 PM ET

Florida Issues Power Alert After Power Plant Blast

By Heather McCulloch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Florida issued a ``power alert'' following a deadly explosion early Thursday at TECO Energy's power plant near Tampa, Fla.

The blast, which killed one worker and injured 45, shut all six generating units at the coal-fired Gannon power plant, which produces a total of 1,270 megawatts (MW), or roughly enough electricity to power a city of half a million people.

The Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC) issued the alert ``due to Tampa Electric Company issuing public appeals for conservation due to the explosion at the Gannon Plant.''

Florida issued its first such alert of the year Tuesday when temperatures shot up to near 90 degrees Fahrenheit (35 C) while several of the state's power plants were shut for spring maintenance.

TECO, the parent company of Tampa Electric Co., said it did not know when the damaged plant would be back in operation.

Spot electricity prices in Florida and in the Southeast were unshaken by the blast, however.

``There are a lot of rumors out there for $100 (per megawatt hour) power, but we're not buying that, and I don't know who is. We could see that for an hour or two this afternoon, but not right now,'' one Florida-based power trader said.

He said in-state prices for electricity delivered over the next hour were currently running around $30 per MWh, while power scheduled for delivery Friday at the Georgia/Florida border during the 16-hour ``peak'' daytime schedule was quoted at $35.00 per MWh, compared with $30.00-32.00 per MWh a day ago.

Another Florida trader said deals for hourly power in Florida were reported done as high as $35.00.

He also said that there were hefty offers of $75 and $100 surfacing north of Florida but could not confirm any deals were done at those levels.

When the Gannon station resumes service is a major question facing Florida utilities. A lengthy outage into the hot summer months, when electricity demand for air conditioning reaches its peak, could strain the Florida power grid.

It could also force local utilities to import electricity from out of state, resulting in higher costs that, in turn, would likely be passed down to consumers.

Preliminary reports indicate TECO's blast was caused by a hydrogen leak at a generator that was shut for testing.

Though the TECO plant explosion apparently hit only one unit, all six of the facility's generating units were shut following the mishap.

The fire was brought under control within about 15 minutes of the explosion, rescue workers said.

-- Roland (nottelling@nowhere.com), April 08, 1999.

Hey Dutchman, Any additional info is always welcome. Please jump in. No correction at all, all I know is of the 3 in the last three months, nothing earlyier than that until you go back into the 1980's. I couldn't find anything via webcrawler on the Gary, Ind. explosion. I gather it happened before the Rouge River/Dearborne by about 5 months? If you could give me a URL on this or the name of the power company it would be much appreciated!

Sysman - Synchronizing a generator to a line isn't all that difficult. You have this big old meter that measures the angle difference between the grid and the generator. You don't close the switch until they are right together, actually you activate your control just a little before it is in sych so that by the time the switches close it is in synch. Even on portable generators (I mean the type that can be towed by a truck) the automated transfer switches have phase detectors in them so that the phase of the generator and the line are the same before the switch will transfer back to the line when the power comes back on.

Electricity doing something that it is not supposed to be doing is horrific. One time in downtown Omaha an abandon manufacturing building was being reopened. One of the first things to do was to restore power to the building. Somehow some water got in the oilbath switches, at least this is what was assumed. Two men in the switch room, another at its door were killed out right, another walking up the stairs was thrown a good ten feet or so and lived. Several blocks of power cable just disappeared from the poles.

On the subject of electricity please remember this. A chemical burn or a thermal burn merely damages or kills the flesh on the outside of the torso or limb. An electrical burn across any distance of flesh just follows the line of least ohmage or resistance. Therefore the burn might be at the exit and entrance point and then a circuitous path (like say a bone or artery) in between. If you don't know what you are doing, DON'T.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), April 08, 1999.

Thanks for your input Ken. I really don't know anything about it. I just remembered reading this from Dick's posts a few months ago, and thought I would toss it up. It says above that the generator was shut down for testing, and I figured they may have been bringing it back on-line. Still an interseting point from Dick though. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 08, 1999.

A post from the EUY2K Forum:

"Hydrogen gas is used to cool the windings of large power turbines.


-- Jim Lynes (james.lynes@disney.com), April 08, 1999."

As far as I know, hydrogen is one of the most flammable and explosive gasses around (does the name Hindenburg ring a bell?). Also, as far as I know, the windings of a generator produce a helluva lot of heat.

How about an explanation from Robert Cook, or someone else (maybe Ken?) who really knows how these things are constructed and why hydrogen would be used instead of (as another poster suggested) nitrogen, which is not explosive as a gas?

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), April 08, 1999.

Just read on the AP wire, the blast has claimed a second victim.

-- Codejockey (codejockey@geek.com), April 08, 1999.

Less friction with H2, good heat transfer ability too - like many kighter gasses (like He2) - if you ever have to stay in an HeO2 environment (like saturated deep sea diving) for a while, the better heat transfer ability of He will tend to keep your workers (divers) very, very chill.

H2 (in the generator) should not be affected directly by any Y2K remediation/repair (unless sensor related) - but remember, the bigger the hurry, the more the administrative pressure on the workers, the more likely an error is to happen - anywhere.

But blowing up a generator (and losing two workers) hurts. You can't replace those quickly, it takes a while just to start to rebuild the assembly, completing takes many months, movement and reinstallation takes even more time. My sympathies to their families.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (Cook.R@csaatl.com), April 08, 1999.

Hardliner - from my source - "Hydrogen is used because it is the gas of highest specific heat; therefore the best conductivity from generator field to "hydrogen coolers" (the H2 to water heat exchanger)."

Anybody - Still haven't found info on a plant blow up around Gary, Ind. in 1998. Anybody find anything?

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), April 08, 1999.

Ken, I believe you are refering to the Hammond, Indiana explosion on Jul 28, 1998. See Indianapolis Star/News: Hammond Plant Explosion Injures 17. It was believed sparks may have ignited coal dust.

-- (snowleopard6@webtv.net), April 09, 1999.

The post concerning the Hammnd Ind. is correct. I was asked if I wanted to go up there and help rebuild it. My info was that it was the vibration embeds which failed that caused the explosion. To my almost certain knowledge,there has been only one other instance when a turbine was involved...This ocurred at the Huntington canyon power house at Huntington,Utah back in 75'-76'. Te plant had been down for a couple of days...And they decided to bring it back on line. The operator brought the turbine up to 80% of sync. speed and looked at the switch yard meters. They read that the yard had no voltage i it. The switch yard was hot! It held 13,800 volts! And at about 80%,the turbine was putting out about 9000 volts or so.. In any case the enterlocks for some reason (they were analog) allowed the operator to engage the turbine to the switch yard. The higher voltage came crashing in and stopped the generator.Then "motored" it in reverse which ruptured the hydrogen coolant envelope. MAN! You talk about an explosion! I was three days directing cherry pickers to the rubble of the turbine casing which had been shot through the walls of the turbine building (some of it was almost a half mile frm the plant site). And we had to use the second generator (which had been ordered with the first so that we could build the second unit-) because G.E. had a back log of orders running at five years for their turbunes and Westington House was further behind.To repair the damage to the first unit so that it could be put back on line. The accident and the way it happened was supposed to be impossible.But it did, and the big wigs from Com Ed and PG&E etc all came out there to see the damage. Well! Enough of the rambling from this old man...But the embeds,folks they are the real killers not the soft ware Dutchman

-- Dutchman (Electric@shock.owee), April 09, 1999.

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