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The Sayano-Shushenskaya dam hydro-electric power station accident due to Turbine Failure

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Livingsta is a writer who focuses on anything that fascinates, provokes or interests her. She always puts forth her best efforts and focus.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam after the disaster - the destructed part of the turbine house is visible    (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam after the disaster - the destructed part of the turbine house is visible (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam

A brief description of the dam:

The construction of the power plant includes an arch gravity dam and a spillway (under construction). The arch gravity dam is 245.5 metres high with a solid left bank dam 246.1 metres long, a power dam of 331.8 metres long a spillway dam of 189.6 metres long and a solid right bank dam of 298.5 metres long. The dam is built so strong enough to withstand earthquakes of up to 8 on the Richter scale.

The Generator Hall of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station  (Andrey Korzun / CC BY-SA)

The Generator Hall of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station (Andrey Korzun / CC BY-SA)

The Hydro power plant:

The hydro power plant was built with ten turbines. The turbine No 2 started having problems shortly after its installation due to defects in its seals and shaft vibrations. The cavities and crack on the turbine wheel were completely reconditioned in 2000. Despite these efforts, turbine No 2 continued to have problems, leading to further repairs in 2005 and 2009, during which again turbine blades were repaired. But still the turbine experienced vibrations due to new cracks and cavities, which did not exceed the threshold limit. But in July 2009 the vibrations exceeded the threshold value and continued to increase. It is believed that there were several attempts to shut down the turbine.

Sayano Shushenskaya Accident

Several killed in Russia dam explosion - 17 Aug 09

Damage in the generator hall at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant   (AP Photo/ Rossiiskaya Gazeta Newspaper)

Damage in the generator hall at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant (AP Photo/ Rossiiskaya Gazeta Newspaper)

The disaster:

But on the 17th of august 2009, despite all these attempts, the vibration increased a lot (four times more than the other turbines) pushing the rotor inside the turbine up, thereby pushing the turbine cover which was kept in place by 80 bolts of 8 centimetres diameter. There was a loud bang of sound when the turbine cover was pushed up, after which the 900 ton rotor was shot out of its location due to the force of the flood, bouncing it off the ceiling of the machine room destroying the entire concrete and steel turbine room structure flooding the machinery hall and the rooms below its level. There was a complete blackout because the power output fell to zero. So the emergency generators were started to open the spillway gates of the dam. The accident also created a transformer explosion which in turn created a large oil slick (transformer fluid that leaked from one of the hydroelectric station's damaged units) that floated down the YeniseiRiver, which flows north through Siberia to the Arctic. It is estimated that 40 tons of transformer oil were spilled into the river, killing an estimated 400 tons of trout in two fisheries.This disaster has lead to the death of 74 people and one still missing.

 

Flood water was pumped out of the engine room by the 24th of August 2009, while the search and rescue operation was complete by the 28th of august 2009.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam  (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power dam (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Guess by the media:

  1. Former general director of the plant claims that the manufacturing defects in the turbines were the cause, and also said that these turbine blades were not reliable.
  2. Another former director claims the incorrect starting process of the turbine to be the reason for this disaster.
  3. A website supporting the rebel groups in Chechnya claimed on 21st of August 2009 that they were the reason for the blast, which was dismissed as senseless by the authorities.
  4. On the 11 September 2009, RusHydro failed to accept dam displacement as the reason for this disaster.

But the cause of the disaster according to RusHydro is, spouting of water from the socket of turbine No 2. A Russian newspaper has written as the cause to be turbine vibration, as a result of which cracks appeared in the bolts that were used to keep the turbine in place. It is also believed that the ongoing problems with turbine no 2 was very well known to the plant personnel for almost 10 years.

Accident at Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the accident site at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station  (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the accident site at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

The after effects of this disaster:

This turbine failure in the hydro power plant led to serious destructions which include fatalities, power shutdown, damages, Impact on environment and finance.

  1. 74 people are reported dead including one missing bur assumed to be dead.
  2. severe damage was posed to many of the 10 turbines and a few transformers.
  3. Companies that depended on this plant for cheaper power supplies face serious production issues, and also situations where they have to pay higher electricity charges.
  4. Tonnes of oil spill from the transformer led to killing tons of trout fish in two fisheries, and also other serious impacts on wildlife.
  5. RusHydro experience serious drop in its share prices and lost millions, which it will be continuing to lose for the years to come.
  6. Russian government along with RusHydro is believed to pay compensation to victim’s families and also to survivors.
  7. The director of the plant was replaced.

 

All these serious destructions to the power plant have brought the operation of the plant to a halt, and the complete recovery is expected to take decades. There are steps being taken to operate a few turbines which can be operated without replacements, while replacements of other damaged ones are expected to take a few years.

Comments

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on January 06, 2016:

Hello Golaotseone Pheks Pheko, thank you so much for reading and sharing your opinion. I agree with your points. Humans find ways to make things easier and in that process they miss out on certain things that can lead to disaster. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great 2016! :)

Golaotseone Pheks Pheko on January 20, 2015:

These was not really good Guys but you know the thing its that the Power of Natural things its also something that we 've to take into consideration as well, especially before we construct such big things like Power Stations. As we know that the flow of the River won't 've the same pressure at all Turbines installed at the same Place, that's why maybe the Turbine No: 2 had severe Problems, maybe it was installed at a High Pressure Point of the water flow, as we know the Mother Nature wont tell us whenever the Pressure and speed of the water changes.

I send all the Condolences out to the Family of the 74 Hard workers who 's life's ended there, Only God knows why Guys.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on July 01, 2011:

@ www.lookseenow : Thank you for dropping by...and the appreciation. Means a lot. :-)

www.lookseenow on May 14, 2011:

Hi Livingsta:

I read your post about the Shushenskaya dam disaster that happened not too long ago. We walked into something similar here on vacation from New Jersey, USA. Flood waters of the Mississippi River threatening to crest calling for the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway. My wife, and I witnessed the opening of the gates. I’m looking for a link to the word spillway, and came across yours. It seems like faulty manufacturing of turbine blades caused a disaster waiting to happen in your case.

In floodway control it’s the river, not the people, but why blame the river? The river is doing what it’s supposed to be doing even now. If that were not so, then why are they weighing the value of shutting down the shipping ports, to the needs of the people? One commentator said: “You’re talking big bucks!”

Love your post, exciting reading, and very informative.

Regards: jghn

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on January 26, 2011:

@ Arun:

Turbine number 6 was restarted on 24 February 2010. Turbine 5 restarted on 22 March 2010. Turbine 4 was restarted 4th August 2010. Turbine 3 was scheduled to restart in December 2010.

arun on January 07, 2011:

wat is the presentr condition of this dam...?

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on October 15, 2010:

@ Water Damage Restoration: Thanks for reading and dropping a few words :)

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on October 15, 2010:

Yes indeed Karina, thank you for the comments

Water Damage Restoration on September 05, 2010:

What a sad story, sometimes you take safety for granted.

Karina S. from USA on January 10, 2010:

It was a horrible disaster, i feel very sorry for people.

Very informative hub, good pictures. Thanks for sharing.

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on October 24, 2009:

Thank you Abbas, Giirii and Varghese for your comments :)

varghese on October 24, 2009:

good job..........

giirii on October 21, 2009:

wow

abbas14 from Luton, United Kingdom on October 21, 2009:

jumbo hub..like it.

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