Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
1 minute read
10 Aug 2021
7:35 am

Eskom employees allegedly responsible for Medupi unit explosion suspended

Nica Richards

The explosion caused extensive damage to Medupi's unit 4 generator.

Eskom's Medupi power station. Picture: Supplied to Moneyweb

Power utility Eskom has provided its first update after an explosion to one of the units of the Medupi coal-fired power plant in Limpopo. 

According to a statement, the employees responsible for managing and executing intricate work at unit 4 of the plant have been placed on precautionary suspension, until results of an ongoing investigation are revealed. 

ALSO READ: Another setback for Medupi plant after unit explodes

Eskom explained the explosion caused extensive damage to the unit 4 generator. It said the incident took place while hydrogen was being displaced with carbon dioxide and air, in order to find an external leak. 

After the explosion, which took place while the unit was on a short-term outage, it was found that while employees were finding the leak, there was still hydrogen in the generator, which created “an explosive mixture”. This ignited, and resulted in the explosion. 

The employees were suspended, among other reasons, because Eskom believes there was “a deviation from the procedure for carrying out this activity”. 

ALSO READ: Medupi: ‘Paper milestone’ doesn’t address cost, tech, environmental failures

The explosion took place just one week after Eskom declared in a media statement that the contentious Medupi plant had finally reached commercial operation status. 

The plan was for the plant to be handed over to the generation division, after which it would pump 4,764MW of electricity into the country’s embattled power grid, after 14 years of work and billions of rands.

It is not yet known what impact this will have on the national grid, but Eskom said any developments would be communicated.

When Medupi is completed, it will be the world’s fourth largest coal-fired plant, and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world.