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Enemalta confirms damage to steam turbine

‘Parts fell off during test run, sucked into turbine’

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Enemalta has confirmed that a new steam turbine at the Delimara power station extension has been damaged and the case is being investigated.

Extension not going through full power run, since four engines were switched off at night

The damage was first revealed by Labour MP Joe Mizzi in Parliament on Tuesday evening when he also submitted photos of the damage.

The energy company said engineers from BWSC, the company that installed the new power station, were looking into the damage which was caused after a strainer installed in front of the turbine got dislodged.

“Some of these parts also passed into the steam turbine causing foreign object damage, which is currently being investigated by the manufacturer,” Enemalta said in a statement.

The damage happened after commissioning and reliability tests were completed. The power station has not yet passed to Enemalta pending a final round of tests.

Earlier this month while visiting the power plant, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said Enemalta would be officially taking over the facility by the end of October.

Enemalta said “preparations” were being made by BWSC to make good for the damage in the shortest time possible.

“It has to be noted that all the plant is still under the responsibility of BWSC and they will have to rectify the damage at their expense. Enemalta has already sought legal advice on how to safeguard its interests,” the corporation said.

In a scathing speech during the adjournment, Mr Mizzi said the turbine was damaged during trial runs, while the emissions control mechanism was also leaking.

He said some parts had broken off during a test run and were sucked into the steam turbine. The turbine was opened on Monday, when the damage was confirmed.

Mr Mizzi said that contrary to what Mr Fenech had said, the extension was not going through a full power run, since four of the engines were switched off during the night.

He also asked if independent experts had been engaged to verify whether BWSC was adhering to its contractual obligations and whether the authorities were satisfied both with the reliability of the plant and its emissions control.

Enemalta explained it was not the intention of the tests to operate the plant continuously at full load. The plant was designed to operate on a start and stop basis, it added, in order to optimise the operating efficiency while meeting the varying daily load demand.

“This process is inherently more demanding than continuous operations.

“It is part of the normal procedure that whenever generating units are shut down routine checks and maintenance are carried out,” Enemalta said.

The company denied there were sulphur emissions from the plant resulting in a health hazard to the personnel on site.

However, it confirmed there were “minor discharges of sodium bicarbonate”, known as baking powder, which was used in the fuel cleaning process. It denied there were problems with the abatement system.

“These faults are being corrected and the faulty valves are being replaced or modified. These discharges have nothing to do with the fault on the steam turbine,” Enemalta said.

On the engagement of independent experts requested by Mr Mizzi, Enemalta said it had sufficient in-house expertise to properly supervise the reliability and performance tests of the new plant.

The company said the plant was operational and the combined electrical output was of 136MW.

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