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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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Investigation into turbine blade fall

WORK was suspended on an offshore windfarm when an 18-tonne section of turbine plunged into the sea.

DRAMA: A turbine blade being hoisted in a yoke for fitting to the turbine, seen on the left, as part of Walney Offshore Windfarm, similar to the operation during which part of a blade broke free from the hoist SUBMITTED

The drama unfolded at the £1bn Walney Offshore Windfarm being built in the Irish Sea, nine miles from Barrow.

The crane was lifting a turbine blade from a feeder barge when the blade broke free from its hoist and fell into the water.

Nobody was injured but a source claimed two workers badly shaken by the incident later quit.

Danish firm Dong Energy, which is developing the windfarm, and the Health and Safety Executive launched investigations and work was stopped for a week.

The incident is believed to be the only serious one since the major operation to construct the first 51 giant turbines began last spring.

It has not been disclosed how many workers were on the site at the time but around 250 people are employed by various companies, including Dong and the German turbine maker Siemens, building phase one of the windfarm in 20m of water. The workers include people from Denmark, Holland and Germany but most are British.

Dong Energy spokesman Jens Nybo Jensen said: “On Monday August 23 during installation of the third and final blade on wind turbine number D05 at Walney Wind Farm, an incident occurred when a blade became detached from the lifting yoke during installation and fell into the sea.

“There were no casualties. A stop work order was issued immediately.

“The incident was investigated and the work stop order was released on August 30.”

Dong Energy said it did not have any knowledge of people quitting because of the accident.

David Harris, of the HSE in Manchester, said: “I can confirm there is an HSE investigation into the incident going on at the moment.”

He said the work stoppage had not been the result of an HSE enforcement notice but had been a voluntary arrangement by the windfarm builders.

According to Dong Energy’s website about the windfarm, the total weight per wind turbine is 550 tonnes and each blade weighs 18 tonnes.

The website says the total height to blade tip of each turbine in phase one of the project will be 137m but 150m in phase two.

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