Medupi Hydrogen Explosion Update: Eskom Opens Criminal Case

  • A criminal case of malicious damage to property has been opened at the Lephalale police station by Eskom relating to a recent hydrogen explosion at Unit 4 of Medupi Power Station.
  • The explosion resulted in extensive damage to the 800MW generator. Read more
  • It is unclear who the criminal charges have been laid against.
  • There were no injuries as a result of the blast.

Earlier in the week, Eskom reported that the explosion occurred during the activity to displace hydrogen with carbon dioxide and air respectively, for the purposes of finding an external leak. While performing this activity air was introduced into the generator at a point where hydrogen was still present in the generator at sufficient quantities to create an explosive mixture, which ignited and resulted in the explosion. The utility reported that it appears that there was a deviation from the procedure for carrying out this activity.

The internal hydrogen explosion within the 800 MW generator of Unit 4 at Medupi Power Station has been destroyed. Image credit: Chris Yelland – twitter

The charges come after Eskom undertook to place those employees who were responsible to manage and execute this work under precautionary suspension pending the conclusion of the Major Event Investigation.

The 4764MW Medupi coal fired power plant, plagued by design flaws, extensive build and budget overruns plus corruption, only recently achieved full commercial operation status. Read more

Medupi Power Station, along with all power stations in the country, is listed as a strategic national point. Any such incident must be reported to the National Keypoint Office who will direct legal action if required. Eskom has confirmed that it received a directive from the National Keypoint Office to open the case. The national key point list is provided by the Ministry of Police and is guided by the National Key Points Act. 

Repairs to the damaged generator at Medupi Power Station’s unit 4 could take up to 24 months and cost up to R2 billion, Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter told News24 today. The CEO stressed that a true estimate on repairs and cost will only be known once the Major Event Investigation has been completed.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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