Skip to comments.Explosion reported at Plant Bowen (GA Power)
Posted on 04/04/2013 3:12:05 PM PDT by higgmeister
An explosion has been reported at Georgia Power Plant Bowen. Injuries have been reported via scanner traffic, number and extent are unknown. The source of the explosion is believed to be a turbine within the powerhouse.
Read more: The Daily Tribune News - Explosion reported at Plant Bowen
I did some work there. Not many homes nearby. A little village a mile down the road, otherwise fields. They were very paranoid in the late 90’s about security. This was the only plant (including a nuclear plant) that thoroughly searched me and my truck. Also made calls to veriy my work there. I never found out why.
At 3,499 megawatts, Plant Bowen has the largest generating capacity of any coal-fired power plant in North America since the partial shutdown of Ontario Power Generation’s Nanticoke Generating Station in Canada. Wikipedia®
A turbine failure at 3600 RPM would be no fun. If the blades breach the outer shell, there would be an immediate release of energy in the form of thermal energy and the danger of scalding or lacerations by flying debris in the immediate vicinity high. Prayers for the injured.
The turbines would be housed withing the main building. The towers associated with the power plant are evaporative cooling towers and are probably not involved in a turbine excursion.
A steam turbine on a USN destroyer received a “slug” of water from the boiler instead of the required steam. The resultant “explosion” (actually, the blades broken from the rapidly spinning turbine, after being hit by water instead of steam) threw blades out a velocity which carried them from the engine room up through four steel decks.
A lot of energy is in those spinning turbines!
There was an accident at the G-E LSTG plant in Schenectady long ago; I think it was in the '60s. What failed was an alternator rotor, not a turbine. It failed at 3600 RPM, and pieces of the rotor burst out of the test housing. Three were killed, and (if memory serves) one body was never found.
One man was on top of the housing looking at a meter when it happened.
5:35 P.M. UPDATE - WYXC-AM reporter John Underwood says that the explosion took place in a cooling tower. There are reports that there are holes in the cooling towers.
Some people nearby said that airbags in their vehicles near the plant were set off by the explosion.
There have been no reports of casualties.
Buildup of some flammable gas inside the tower finds an ignition source?
Some gas that's used in water treatment, maybe?
Whole lotta volume in those things. That concrete is pretty thin in places. The strength is in the top and bottom rings.
The alternator rotor is coupled to the main turbine but is not in direct contact with the steam path and therefore the housing is not as resistant. The speed is, of course, the same and therefore a tremendous amount of mechanical energy spinning that. Without more details everything is speculative.
Stepping away for a few to get real work done before the end of the day. Be back later on. For full disclosure, I own some Southern Company stock.
At this point there is no indication the cooling towers were the source of the accident but only the target of debris. There is probably no gas build-up in a cooling tower however they did a modification last year in which they are using less water through a thermosyphon cooler. How this works I am unsure at this time.
Well, the alternator housing is not a pressure vessel that's true, but there's a steel stator laminations and heavy copper bars a two or three feet thick surrounding the rotor on all sides.
The turbine housing on the other hand is made of high-grade steel and is a couple of inches thick. On the other hand, those low pressure blades are close to five feet long and weigh on the order of a hundred pounds each. One of those suckers flies off at 3600 rpm and you've got a problem.
The alternator rotors are solid steel, three or four feet in diameter (for 3600 rpm anyway). They weigh something like fifty or sixty tons.
The rotors come in larger sizes and can present problems if someone is not careful handling them. Here’s what happened this week just to the South of me.
I based the “flammable gas in the cooling tower” idea on the reports of a very large report and house-shaking pressure wave out to a distance of miles from the site.
I don’t see how a turbine explosion could release that kind of pressure wave.
Even a flat-out boiler explosion would dissipate much of it’s energy against the walls of the plant.
But flammable gas inside the volume of one of those cooling towers could really release a hell of a pressure wave.
Be a cool thing to try, anyway. I mean, if anyone’s got a spare hyperbolic cooling tower laying around.
Looks like they dropped a stator from a crane. One fatality. Nasty.
GA Pwr reported they were in the process of shutting down for maintenance when the event occurred.
I'm obviously wrong about that one. I forgot that in the big plants the boiler is basically outside the plant, at least parts of it are (the steam drum at the top). The rest of it is inside the furnace; I think those are designed to handle a burned-through tube without blowing up.
One H.ll of a “stain” on that cooling tower...
What in the ... ??
My sentiments exactly...
Blast from ground level up,
or from inside the tower
No obvious structures external to tower effected
No adjacent building!
Maybe someone tried to deep-fry a frozen cow right next to the tower?
***Well, the alternator housing is not a pressure vessel that’s true,****
Actually it is. There is approximately 50 lb of pure hydrogen in the generator to cool it. If it went there would have been a massive explosion followed by the sealing oil fire. Very nasty!
This does not sound like a hydrogen gas explosion but more like the relief diaphrams on the LP turbines went, signifying a loss of condenser cooling water.
If it did, it would trip the unit and the main steam valves would slam shut, the reheat relief valve would open and dump reheat steam through the Intermediate turbine into the condenser.
The main Pop valves also went due to the sudden buildup of pressure when the main steam valves closed.
The “smoke” mentioned in the article looks more like water vapor leaking out of the various openings caused by the trip off and diaphram openings.
Other than that, I don’t know much about it. ;-)
Well, yeah, I didn't know they used that much, but I knew they kept positive pressure to keep air out.
But compared to the turbine housing... inlet steam at ~3000 psi (at least for fossil fuel plants) it's almost negligible.
Cow nothing, maybe a mature Sperm Whale!
Think that makes three Nuclear Plant accidents since Easetr Sunday. First they dropped the million pound turbine down in Arkansas, then supposedly a Switch Unit arced at another Plant and now this ? That makes three this week. Any Koreans working at these plants ?
There you go!
This one's fossil-fueled. See the big pile of coal in the background in the picture at the top of the thread?
This is a coal power plant, right?
Then the main commonality is the Turbine area having an accident, which is the same area an accident happened in Arkansas on Sunday. A couple of days in between we had a power switch arcing at a third power plant. Sure hope they are not targeting our power generation capabilities.
There is approximately 50 lb of pure hydrogen in the generator to cool it.
Thanks for this info. Do you mean 50 lb of hydrogen or 50 psi of hydrogen?
Does anyone have an opinion on possible contributing personnel issues, subcontractors potentially not aware of processes, procedures or pratfalls or old-timers retiring to deplete the knowledge base?
Maybe someone tried to deep-fry a frozen cow
right next to the tower?
Cow nothing, maybe a mature Sperm Whale!
Mature Sperm Whale nothing, maybe .....
Planned and routine, or unplanned and diagnostic
Sort of. Think “Let’s Move”.
50-55 lb/PSI. 60 is ideal. 99.99% pure. You use an oil seal to keep the Hydrogen in the generator.
Back in the early ‘90’s I worked an “Outage” at Oconee Nuclear as a Powerhouse Mechanic with a subcontractor. They ran us through two weeks of classes before we began the job.
This WAS nuclear, of course, was was probably far more stringent. However, back in 2009, I worked as a fiber optic engineer on a rebuilding project at a refinery in Beaumont TX after one of the hurricanes. Again, we all went through a very thorough class schedule, fully documented with permanent certification badges.
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