Friday, November 16, 2007

Landslide - Australia (Victoria) NOV

A HUGE landslide at one of Victoria's biggest power plants - Yallourn power station - has slashed electricity production.

The landslide has left Yallourn running at less than a third of its capacity ahead of a week of forecast 30C days.

However Yallourn operator TRUenergy and Premier John Brumby assured Victorians there was no immediate threat to power supplies.

The State Government will investigate the landslip, which opened a giant chasm and let the rain swollen Latrobe River pour into the Yallourn open cut mine.

Heavy rainfall this month has been blamed for putting pressure on the mine's wall, causing it to collapse and cover two major conveyor belts with coal and earth.

Work has started on diverting the river to stem the flow of water into the mine.

Flows to the river from the Blue Rock Dam and Lake Narracan have been reduced with only minimal urban water being sent down.

No one was injured in the landslide, which happened before 2am yesterday.

The Environment Protection Authority is monitoring the river for possible contamination, and Southern Rural Water has advised farmers and domestic customers downstream of Thoms Bridge to stop using river water until further notice.

Engineers yesterday assessed the damage which has left the station running on minimum power in two of its four generators.

Operator TRUenergy said the power station was burning emergency coal supplies which were expected to run out this morning.

Coal will continue to be mined from unaffected sections of the mine, but the plant is expected to run at a reduced capacity for weeks.

A TRUenergy spokesman said it would shift conveyors to those parts of the mine within days. It will be a staged implementation back to full production, possibly taking months.

"Realistically, it will be longer than a week," he said.

Consultants were hired last week to review seepage into the brown-coal mine, but a TRUenergy spokeswoman said there was no indication the wall was about to collapse.

The station supplies approximately 22 per cent of Victoria's electricity needs and 8 per cent nationally.

Only two of its four generators were operating on minimum power yesterday, producing 440 megawatts of power.

The station can produce up to 1480 megawatts of power, supplying two million houses, when operating at full capacity.

The National Electricity Market Management Company said the collapse would not jeopardise the security of Victoria's power supply.

Reserve power from NSW, South Australia and Tasmania can be used to top up Victoria.

TRUenergy managing director Richard McIndoe said significant works were needed to repair the damage.

"Remedial works to address the problem were scheduled to commence at the mine today," Mr McIndoe said.

"Due to the significant subsidence and resulting leakage, the river will now need to be diverted to restore downstream river flows."

Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor's spokesman Dan Ward said an investigation into the landslide would be conducted but the priority was to fix the leak.

"There's nothing to suggest they (TRUenergy) have done anything specifically to cause the leak," Mr Ward said.

"There's nothing at this stage to suggest what's caused it and we cannot rule anything in or out."

Mr Ward said the EPA would assess the water that had leaked into the mine before it was pumped out.

Premier John Brumby also assured Victorians there was no immediate threat to the state's power supplies.

Mr Brumby said he was waiting for advice on what would be needed for repairs, but he did not believe the state was at risk of losing power. - Source

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