Trade Union Solidarity says that it doesn’t believe that the explosion at Medupi power station was due to sabotage. Eskom says that its preliminary investigation has found that there was an incorrect mixture of carbon dioxide when hydrogen was removed from the generator.
The union says this was a deviation from the normal procedure by the employees working at the time.
Eskom has suspended 6 employees and is currently investigating the hydrogen explosion. It says at this stage it cannot tell the extent of the damage, how much it would cost and how long it will take to effect repairs.
The power utility says that a disciplinary process is likely to follow depending on the results of the investigation and more people could be suspended.
It’s ruled out the possibility of sabotage due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha says, “This is a human error and a mistake on the part of a human being as preliminary investigation show to us. To make allegations that this was sabotage we will need evidence which at this stage we do not have.”
Solidarity has confirmed that its members are among those that have been suspended but have not been presented with any charges.
The labour union also believes that this was a human error.
Unit 4 generator, which has been damaged, produced 720 megawatts of electricity. But Eskom says this will not lead to power shortages and load shedding.
Solidarity estimates that it would cost billions of rands to repair the unit and more than a year to carry out the repairs.
Residents recovering from shock
Residents of Lephalale and surrounding areas still recovering from the shock they experienced following the explosion at the fourth largest coal-powered station in the world – Medubi in Limpopo.
Its completion was announced just last month.
Although no structural damages are visible, the unit is said to have been extensively damaged on the inside.
Residents say they thought the explosion was a bomb blast or an earthquake.
“People were shocked they didn’t know what was going on they thought maybe it was a matter of criminality still people are shocked,” says one resident.
Medupi Power station explosion worrisome for Lephalale residents and surrounding:
Another one says, “We heard the sound, around pass 11. So we were afraid and shocked because we did not know what happened.”
“The whole place was vibrating and we were frightened and we only knew in the morning that the was an explosion at the station,” laments another resident.
Seven people were treated for shock during the explosion.
Eskom suspends staff over Medupi blast:
Energy expert, Chris Yelland earlier indicated that damaged unit four will have to be replaced as it is irreparable and it might take a year to replace it.
Mantshantsha explains, “Eskom forensic audits team together with the insurance companies who have inured the unit will come to the infrastructure. What we can say is that the damage to the generation unit is quite extensive and it will be out for a while. We are at this stage able to quantify how long that will be.”
-Additional reporting by Lutendo Bobodi