Eskom reacts to Ingula power station accident

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Safety remains an important aspect of operations at Eskom, says Chief Executive Officer Brian Dames.

Briefing journalists on 1 November 2013, Dames said work had been stopped at its Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme, in KwaZulu-Natal, and all of its construction sites, following Thursday’s incident, in which four foreign nationals and two South Africans were killed.

He said Eskom flags will fly at half-mast for the next week.

Dames said that a total of 13 people had been involved in the incident.

The top gantry, which was on wheels, started moving down the incline and hit the monorail and the other two gantries which impacted the people on the way down.
The Ingula power station, an Eskom construction site near Ladysmith, is one of government’s flagship infrastructure projects.

It is a 1 332MW Pumped Storage Scheme that contributes significantly to job creation and economic growth of the town of Ladysmith and South Africa’s infrastructure programme.

The storage scheme consists of an upper and lower dam, each with a capacity of approximately 22 million cubic metres of water.

“The tunnel did not collapse,” he said of the plant which has since been closed.

The six that had died were contract employees with three of them having worked for CMI JV and the other three having worked for Whessoe.

The names of the deceased have not yet been released, he added, saying that the names will only be released once families have been informed.

Safety at all Eskom plants was a priority, said Dames, adding that a priority of the entity is to look after the families of the deceased and the families of those who have been injured. Eskom has assigned a team of senior people to assist the families.

Four of the seven other people were still receiving medical attention at a Ladysmith hospital. The four are in ICU, while the other three have been discharged.

“We will ensure that care is taken of the families,” he said.

Dames, who was at the site since the early hours of this morning, said the utility will find out what led to the incident and to prevent it from happening in the future.

Counsellors were on site, at the plant and the matter will be investigated.

“Now we are at the start of the process,” he said, adding that it was too early to say what had caused it.

The site, which is the 21st largest pumped storage scheme in the world, will remain closed until investigations are done.

There will be two investigations, one done by the Department of Mineral Resources as well as an internal Eskom investigation led by Webber Wentzel.

Eskom has appealed to its contractors to be accountable.

“We have been appealing for accountability that the leadership take. We’ve not seen that. Contractors are not there to make money out of Eskom,” said Dames.

Eskom expressed its condolences to the families of the deceased. “We are determined to make sure that those that died did not die in vain,” said Dames.

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