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Eskom CEO: Collapsed silo inspected in 2013

Nov 02 2014 21:13

Johannesburg - The coal silo that collapsed at Eskom's Majuba power plant was inspected in September last year, with there being no apparent signs of future failure, Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona said on Sunday.

"The last inspection found that concrete structure was in good physical condition," Matona told journalists at a briefing at their Megawatt Park head office in Johannesburg.

"On that occasion the risk categorisation was classified as low."

At 13:30 staff at Majuba reported a physical crack at silo number 20, the one that collapsed.

"The sight of a crack enabled the personnel on site to be evacuated," Matona said.

The silo collapsed, with no injuries reported.

The station's output was 3600 megawatts (MW) at the time of the collapse, and reduced to 1800 MW.

The station's output has subsequently been reduced to 600 MW, with Eskom using that figure as their base in regards to supply planning.

Any increase in output at the station beyond that would be seen as an upside.

"The first priority was to obviously protect the power grid," Matona said.

"We do not think we will be able to recover full capacity but over the next few days we will recover as much capacity as possible."

An investigation would take place into the collapse, which the company said was isolated, and was expected to last around three months, with the collapse being recorded on video assisting in this regard.

Looking ahead, with 1500 MW of load shedding taking place on Sunday, Eskom expected the peak on Monday between 18:00 and 20:00, 18:00 to 22:00 on Wednesday and all of Thursday to be times when load shedding would take place.

If it was possible to avoid this happening, the company would do so.

Rolling blackouts

At least four cities across the country were having to contend with power cuts on Sunday following the collapse at Majuba, located in Mpumalanga.

Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth have been warned of rolling blackouts due to loss of capacity.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in the Eastern Cape said it would cut power to areas for two hours at a time, according to its load-shedding schedule.

The City of Tshwane announced power cuts between 08:00 to 22:00 on Sunday.

Johannesburg's power utility, City Power had been asked to cut back on 460MW, it said in a statement.

The Ekurhuleni municipality said it had been switching customers off since 08:30, according to the schedules on its website.

The City of Cape Town received a similar request from the national power utility.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said earlier on Sunday that the conveyer belt systems, which fed coal to the power station, were damaged and therefore coal could not be fed into the power station.

He said Eskom would bring mobile coal conveyer belts from other stations to Majuba as a temporary solution, but this would take time.

eskom  |  load shedding  |  power cuts
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