Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UK - Electricity outages persist

A flame shoots from a chimney at Coryton Oil Refinery

A 50 metre flame shot into the air from a chimney at the Coryton Oil Refinery in Essex following electrical fluctuations in the UK yesterday. The flame could be seen from many kilometres away and has prompted environmental campaigners to air their concerns. George Whatley, chairman of People Against Methane, who witnessed the spectacle, said, "I was standing at the back of my house and I could see a big plume of smoke and a flame going up at least 150 feet in the air”. The campaigner said that should the incident have been more dangerous a mass evacuation would have been difficult. "In the event of an incident happening like a toxic cloud or an explosion, what safety procedures are there in place for Canvey? We need an emergency evacuation plan and escape route from the island“ he said, “The roads could not take a mass evacuation”.
Officials at the refinery downplayed concerns, with a spokeswoman saying that there was no damage to the refinery and that safety systems operated as expected. Georgina Clark said "an external electrical supply stability issue" with the National Grid had caused power interruptions but added "The company activated its emergency response plan and worked to resolve any operational issues caused by the power fluctuations from the Grid." [Echo].
The flare from the refinery came as Sizewell B shutdown yesterday. The nuclear plant went off line after the Longannet coal fired power station in Scotland also failed. The blackouts were caused by the opposite of a power surge as the National Grid deactivated local stations to maintain the required 50Hz frequency according to an industry spokesman. A total of nine power generation plants shut down causing widespread blackouts [BBC].
There were further problems for people in north Essex today as storms downed power lines on the east coast leaving thousands without power. Storms also brought down power lines in Gloucestershire leaving at least 2000 without electricity.

No comments: