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Tuesday, December 6, 2016 @ 02:12 PM gHale

Calvert Cliffs Unit 2 shut down automatically Monday night because of a leak of hydraulic fluid in the system that opens and closes turbine steam valves on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

All systems responded as designed. Technicians at the Lusby, MD-based facility will repair and fully test the system before returning the unit to service. Unit 1 remains at full power.

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The Unit 2 shut down will not impact electrical service to Exelon customers.

Calvert Cliffs is on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County and is Maryland’s only nuclear energy facility. The station is home to two pressurized water reactors capable of generating 1,756 megawatts combined.

Units 1 and 2 began commercial operation in 1975 and 1977, respectively.

Monday, December 5, 2016 @ 04:12 PM gHale

A gas leak forced businesses on the north side of Iowa City to evacuate Thursday night after a construction crew struck a gas line.

Iowa City Fire Department crews arrived on the scene around 6 p.m. Thursday after the line break, which was in the alley next to Hamburg Inn No. 2. Fire trucks, a police squad car and an ambulance blocked the roadways of about a block of Market Street and the connected block of North Linn Street.

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Restaurants and businesses on the east side of the block of North Linn Street evacuated around 6:30 p.m.

MidAmerican Energy crews headed to the scene to fix the line break, fire department Battalion Chief Eric Nurnberg said. He didn’t know how long it would take to repair the line.

Nurnberg said firefighters would remain on the scene until the line is repaired then check for any lingering gas before allowing anyone to re-enter the buildings.

Friday, December 2, 2016 @ 05:12 PM gHale

Someone shot a Heartland REMC substation transformer.

Someone shot a Heartland REMC substation transformer.

Over $400,000 in damage occurred at a Heartland REMC substation in Wabash, IN, on November 25 after someone shot the transformer, officials said.

The substation is near the Red Bridge Marina on Mississinewa Reservoir Property. The substation lost power that night after someone shot the substation transformer, according to Indiana Conservation officers.

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REMC personnel discovered the bullet hole in the substation transformer that had penetrated the radiator. Other bullet damage was apparent on the outside of the transformer, but did not penetrate it. REMC personnel did find spent rifle cartridges nearby which officers will examine as possible evidence.

Damages to the substation are at least $400,000 or more.

REMC Chief Executive Rob Pearson said evidence indicates the perpetrator stood at the locked gate entrance and fired at least two rounds, since all of the holes in the transformer were made by the same gun.

From the location of the shots as well as the number of shots, the shooting is believed to be an intentional act to damage Heartland REMC property, Pearson said.

“We believe it was intentional because there was more than one bullet on the transformer and we found more than one shell casing,” he said. “We knew it wasn’t a random stray bullet.”

Pearson said the damage also caused a hazardous oil leak around the substation, which had to be cleaned up.

This is the second time someone has shot and damaged the substation. Pearson said the equipment suffered similar damage from a bullet earlier this year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 @ 02:11 PM gHale

Toshiba Surveillance & IP Video Products is introducing two new Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) 3MP IP dome cameras, both featuring 20x optical zoom and delivering streaming video at 2048×1536 resolution for applications requiring highly detailed surveillance, indoors and outdoors in any lighting environment.

Toshiba’s IKS-WP8203R PTZ camera can operate in the harsh outdoors with its IP66 enclosure protection, integrated heater and auto defogging, while the new IKS-WP8103 PTZ provides an attractive indoor solution for covering large spaces such as shopping malls, casinos or schools.

Toshiba's WP8203R PTZ camera can operate in the harsh outdoors.

Toshiba’s WP8203R PTZ camera can operate in the harsh outdoors.

True Day/Night imaging with Digital Wide Dynamic Range empower both cameras to capture images in high contrast and changing light conditions down to 0.01 lux. In addition to 24V, both cameras end up powered with PoE+ which eliminates the need for power cables and reduces installation cost. Also, both are backed by ONVIF Profile S to ensure seamless interoperability with third-party ONVIF-conforming equipment and software.

A core benefit of the new PTZ cameras is powerful, built-in optical zoom capability. It enables up to 20x optical magnification (f=4.7 ~ 94 mm, F1.6 to F3.5) and achieves quick subject tracking through a high-speed auto focusing system so operators can react instantly to suspicious situations. The cameras’ ability to precisely identify small details, such as car licenses or facial features, means they are suitable for users that demand enhanced detail when zooming in, plus makes them able to handle installations where detailed coverage of longer distances is essential including airports, borders, roads, cities and campuses.

The cameras’ also have a high-speed 360° continuous pan that achieves surveillance of large areas without blind spots, and its precision -10° to 190° tilt drive offering almost instant preset positioning. Equipped with 256 presets, pattern tour, autoscan and auto flip, nothing escapes the cameras’ PTZ.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 @ 10:11 AM gHale
Flames from a pipeline explosion Tuesday night near Kansas City, MO.

Flames from a pipeline explosion Tuesday night near Kansas City, MO.

There were no injuries as a result of a blaze that erupted when a gas pipeline ruptured north of Kansas City, Missouri Tuesday night, officials said.

The fire ended up reported about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Platte County, north of Kansas City and not far from Kansas City International Airport, a Platte County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher said.

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The responding Southern Platte Fire District said the blaze resulted from a pipeline explosion, though the cause was unclear.

The identity of the owner or operator of the pipeline was not immediately available.

The pipeline carries ethane and propane, Kansas City Fire Department officials said.

Joe McBride, a spokesman for the airport, said the blaze was not affecting flights at the airport and was not on airport property.

Monday, November 28, 2016 @ 04:11 PM gHale

Three people suffered injuries after an aerosol plant explosion in Neodesha, KS, last Tuesday.

The blast forced an evacuation for residents in Neodesha, officials said.

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Three people suffered injuries, including one worker who ended up transported to a Wichita hospital in critical condition, firefighters said. Neodesha is about 15 minutes north of Independence. The explosion happened around 6 a.m.

Additional tankers from neighboring areas were requested to help.

Several agencies responded including Neodesha Fire and law enforcement, Highway Patrol and Fredonia Fire and law enforcement, officials said.

In addition to the fire and evacuation, Neodesha firefighters said should not use city water due to extremely low pressure and possible contamination. Water should only end up used to flush toilets and other limited life-sustaining uses. Residents should not drink the water or use for cleaning.

According to a release, the city of Independence declared a Stage 3 water emergency. It says the city water treatment plant will stop taking in water from the Verdigirs River at 4 a.m. Wednesday and water testing will take place. This would likely cause many businesses in the area to shut down.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Firefighters says the fire is under control but still burning. Crews are expected to work through the night.

Monday, November 21, 2016 @ 04:11 PM gHale

A cap blew off of a kiln, spraying out molten steel and catching the roof on fire at Quaker City Castings in Salem, OH, Tuesday afternoon.

The blast forced the company to shut down for the day but planned to resume production the next morning in the other half of the building.

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Maintenance workers were returning Tuesday night to work on cleanup. There were no injuries in the incident.

Monetary damages were still being determined, said Fire Chief Scott Mason.

He planned to consult with company officials, noting one kiln was involved and he wasn’t sure how much electrical damage there might be since there was some arcing when the fire was being extinguished. The roof area damaged measured 30 feet by 30 feet.

Quaker Castings is a no-bake sand foundry that produces a wide variety of iron castings and steel castings for various industrial applications.

The company also needs to fix its private fire hydrant, which the fire department used to battle the blaze. The line would not close once the fire department was finished so the city water department had to come in and turn the water off, cap the hydrant and then turn the water back on since it supplies the company’s private fire line. The private hydrant was taken out of service and the company will have to fix it.

The fire department responded after an employee called for help at 1:44 p.m. Mason said he saw a large column of smoke as he drove to the scene. Fire was coming through the roof upon arrival and firefighters made entry between the old Colfor building and the original portion of Quaker City Castings, coming through the west doorway off of South Broadway Avenue to get access to the roof line on the inside.

Foam and water ended up used to extinguish the fire which was under control after 15 to 20 minutes.

In talking with management, Mason said they learned about the cap to the kiln blowing off. Employees hit the molten steel with extinguishers first and eventually saw the fire in the roof line. He said there were fire extinguishers everywhere, so the employees probably thought they had the fire out. Ohio Edison and Columbia Gas were called to the scene also.

Friday, November 18, 2016 @ 02:11 PM gHale

A natural-gas explosion Wednesday night in downtown Canton, IL, killed an Ameron Illinois worker, officials said.

The killed worker was part of a crew that was investigating a gas leak in a building at 45 East Side Square. At least 11 others required hospital attention.

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Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines identified the killed worker as 38-year-old Arturo Silva Jr., of Mapleton. Three other workers suffered injuiries, and two of them remained hospitalized Thursday, said Ameren Senior Vice President Ron Pate.

The explosion took place shortly before 6 p.m. The Ameren workers arrived about 5:30 following a report a contractor damaged a gas-service line, said utility spokesman Tucker Kennedy.

“The utility business is a close brotherhood, and our family is hurting right now,” Kennedy said about 10 p.m. during a news conference at the hospital.

“We express our deep sadness and our profound sympathies to the family of our fallen Ameren Illinois worker and ask everyone to keep their family and our family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Monday, November 7, 2016 @ 02:11 PM gHale

A gas leak from a well in an oil field north of Ventura, CA, forced an evacuation of an industrial area and the closing of roads Thursday.

Workers were trying to disconnect a pipe from an idle well at Aera Energy when the leak occurred just north of Ventura’s west side, said Capt. Mike Lindbery, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

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No liquid was on the ground, but there was a vapor cloud near the oil well, which officials said had been idle about six years.

By late afternoon, a plan had been put in place to disperse the gas with large fans so crews could repair the leak. With the HazMat team on the scene, officials initially said they expected the leak to be secured sometime Thursday evening, but weather issues and equipment setup consumed more time than anticipated. The repair work began Thursday night and the leak secured by 10:30 p.m.

Emergency personnel continued to monitor the vapor cloud to determine whether the incident posed a threat to nearby residents and businesses, officials said. There were no injuries reported.

The leak started at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. As crews started the process of decommissioning the well, one of the pieces of equipment failed and gas started escaping from a crack in a pipe, said Michele Newell, an Aera spokeswoman.

Pressure in the well was rising and falling, but at some point, more gas began to leak.

“There’s a valve that would normally shut it down,” Newell said. But in this case, because of where the crack was, the valve didn’t work.

That left the company to come up with another plan to try to shut off the gas. Newell said a team responded from Aera’s Bakersfield headquarters to help.

It was unclear how much gas released.

Lindbery said the Ventura County Fire Department learned of the leak Thursday morning after Aera notified Ventura County’s Office of Emergency Services.

Newell said Aera contacted the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District on Wednesday shortly after they discovered the leak. Aera also notified the California Division of Oil and Gas on Wednesday, she said. The company decided to notify the Office of Emergency Services on Thursday because the leak could not be fixed.

“We did it out of an abundance of caution,” she said.

Workers brought in large fans to disperse the gas near the oil field, officials said late Thursday.

Authorities closed Ventura Avenue between Dakota Drive and Crooked Palm Road, as well as northbound and southbound off ramps from Highway 33.

Businesses under an evacuation order were south of Shell Road and east of North Ventura Avenue.

The road closures lifted about 8 p.m. and the evacuation order lifted about 11 p.m., officials said.

Representatives from the Air Pollution Control District and Ventura County Division of Environmental Health responded to the scene and worked with others to monitor air quality.

Newell said Aera has had air monitors around the perimeter of the area since Wednesday afternoon and saw no indications of hazardous gas levels immediately outside the area of the leak.

Aera Energy LLC is jointly owned by Shell and Exxon Mobil. It operates across 4,300 acres and produces more than 13,000 barrels of crude oil and 7.5 million cubic feet of natural gas every day out of 414 wells.

Thursday, November 3, 2016 @ 03:11 PM gHale

An ammonia leak of some kind ended up detected at the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant in Dothan, AL, Tuesday forcing Alabama Power officials to declare an alert.

The alert ended later on Tuesday night. Officials detected ammonia around Unit One shortly before 5:43 p.m., said spokesman Michael Sznajderman.

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The unit is not operating right now because it is in a planned refueling outage. The alert cleared at 11:40 p.m.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency, Gov. Robert Bentley and other authorities have been informed about the ammonia.

AEMA said radiation was not detected and there was no danger to the public.

“Among the four categories of emergencies designated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an alert is the second least serious,” Sznajderman said.