Oil leak starts fire in BLP turbine

A leak in an oil supply line was the cause of a fire in a power turbine Tuesday morning at the power plant on Harbor Island, said Sgt. Glenn Bo of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.
Becky Vargo
Aug 29, 2012


The fire did not cause any interruption to power in the area, Bo said. Damage appeared to be contained to some insulation at the Board of Light & Power Sims Generating Station.

Firefighters were called to the power plant at 9:30 a.m. and found staff inside fighting the fire with dry chemicals from both the third and fourth floors of the facility.

Bo said the fire wasn’t big, but it was difficult to access because it was inside insulation surrounding steam pipes between the two floors.

The leaking pipe supplied lubricating oil to gears in the turbine, Bo said. The oil leaked onto other insulation-wrapped pipes that vented steam and caught on fire.

Plant workers could not shut down the turbine because it runs very hot and would be heavily damaged with such an immediate stop, Bo said. Instead, crews shut down the leaking oil line, which extensively diminished the heavy smoke, he said.

Once the fire was out, the plan was to slowly shut down the turbine so it has time to cool off, Bo said. Other turbines would be started in the meantime to take over the workload.

The turbine will be repaired and maintenance on the unit will be done a little sooner than scheduled, authorities said.


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