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Oil spill cleanup complete (Searsburg turbine)

When one of the 11 wind turbines at the Searsburg wind facility collapsed last month during wind gusts left over from Hurricane Ike, it spilled about 40 gallons of hydraulic oil and crankcase oil. The spill has since been cleaned up, the Agency of Natural Resources said. ...Tedesco said the turbines - blades, nacelle and tower - were designed to withstand winds of 100 miles an hour, and that the blade came off during a gust of wind measuring around 66 miles an hour on Sept. 15, tail winds from Hurricane Ike. He said the winds hadn't even been high enough to trigger one of the turbine's built-in safety features.

When one of the 11 wind turbines at the Searsburg wind facility collapsed last month during wind gusts left over from Hurricane Ike, it spilled about 40 gallons of hydraulic oil and crankcase oil.

The spill has since been cleaned up, the Agency of Natural Resources said.

Green Mountain Power, the owner of the state's only operating wind facility, also said the collapse of the turbine was being blamed on a faulty repair to one of the turbine's blades earlier in the summer after it was struck by lightning.

John Tedesco, safety and environmental manager for Green Mountain Power, said he first reported the oil spill at 80 gallons, but once workers got on Mount Waldo, where the wind facility is located, they realized that at least half of the oil was still contained in the collapsed equipment and that the early estimate was too high.

Tedesco said the turbines - blades, nacelle and tower - were designed to withstand winds of 100 miles an hour, and that the blade came off during a gust of wind measuring around 66 miles an hour on Sept. 15, tail winds from Hurricane Ike.

He said the winds hadn't even been high enough to trigger one of the turbine's built-in safety features.

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When one of the 11 wind turbines at the Searsburg wind facility collapsed last month during wind gusts left over from Hurricane Ike, it spilled about 40 gallons of hydraulic oil and crankcase oil.

The spill has since been cleaned up, the Agency of Natural Resources said.

Green Mountain Power, the owner of the state's only operating wind facility, also said the collapse of the turbine was being blamed on a faulty repair to one of the turbine's blades earlier in the summer after it was struck by lightning.

John Tedesco, safety and environmental manager for Green Mountain Power, said he first reported the oil spill at 80 gallons, but once workers got on Mount Waldo, where the wind facility is located, they realized that at least half of the oil was still contained in the collapsed equipment and that the early estimate was too high.

Tedesco said the turbines - blades, nacelle and tower - were designed to withstand winds of 100 miles an hour, and that the blade came off during a gust of wind measuring around 66 miles an hour on Sept. 15, tail winds from Hurricane Ike.

He said the winds hadn't even been high enough to trigger one of the turbine's built-in safety features.

"The towers are rated to 100 mph and they will pitch into the wind so they do not spin.

"They may not even have full revolution. Those winds weren't sufficient to pitch and the unit was spinning just fine," Tedesco said.

Schnure said the Sept. 15 winds were the strongest since the blade repairs, which were conducted on the site. She said the faulty blade hit another blade, and both hit the tower.

Tedesco said Green Mountain Power was able to clean up the spill within a couple of days, despite the complications of having to move the heavy turbine parts and blades, which had fallen to the base of the tower. He said that moving the broken parts was complicated because they didn't want to spill the remaining oil.

Tedesco said the amount of excavated soil was less than a 30-yard roll-off container, and he said only a 15-yard dumptruck load of soil was needed for fill after the cleanup.

Tedesco said the mountaintop location didn't involve much soil, but he said the oil did not leak into the ledge underneath.

He said the crankcase oil in particular was thick and just sat on top of the ground.

Green Mountain Power originally leased the site but now owns it, according to GMP spokeswoman Dottie Schnure. GMP doesn't plan on fixing the tower and turbine, which are 11 years old, because the design is obsolete.

Schnure said the first blade that fell from the turbine had been struck by lightening and had undergone repairs earlier in the summer, and that was the first blade to fall off during the high winds.

The incident prompted the Industrial Wind Action Group to raise questions about the safety of the turbines in the event of an accident, and the effects of oil on the environment in fragile, mountaintop areas.

Lisa Linowes of Lyman, N.H., an engineer and executive director of the group which has 1,500 members worldwide, said that a similar industrial-sized turbine, larger than the Searsburg facility, has just been erected outside a high school in Massachusetts.

Linowes said she called the school yesterday after news of the Searsburg collapse became public to bring this safety issue to their attention.

Linowes, whose group is an intervener in the proposed Deerfield Wind project, which is immediately adjacent to the Green Mountain Power facility, said her group wasn't against wind per se, but just wanted all the issues surrounding wind discussed.

"We want it to be safe," she said. "We just want a balanced discussion."

Marc Roy, who handled the cleanup for the Agency of Natural Resources, said that as far as oil spills go, the Searsburg wind facility was relatively small.

"Unfortunately, this was a fairly routine amount and type of oil," said Roy, noting that this week the state recorded its 500th report this year of petroleum releases.

"Many are small and innocuous, others much more significant," Roy said, noting that Thursday afternoon he had just received a report of oil seeping out of a bank in Montpelier.

Earlier in the week, there were two reports of heating fuel oil spills at homes in the neighborhood of 200 gallons, and last month, a fuel delivery at a Springfield gas station resulted in a 300-gallon spill.

But the biggest fuel spill in the past 12 months was the Middlebury train derailment, which resulted in a spill measuring in the tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline.

"There were 14 rail cars with 42,000 gallons each, by far that was the most significant event for us in a long time," Roy said.


Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

OCT 17 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17507-oil-spill-cleanup-complete-searsburg-turbine
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