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Tuesday, January 10, 2017 @ 06:01 PM gHale

A coal fire at Duke Energy’s Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County, FL, attracted attention Thursday, but caused no injuries or damage to the plant.

Crews with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue division got the call Thursday morning to the complex to extinguish a smoldering coal fire.

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Workers at the plant, located off U.S. 19 north of Crystal River, smelled burning coal at about 9:30 a.m. from inside a silo at one of the plant’s two coal-fired units, according to Duke spokeswoman Kim Crawford.

Crawford said there was no damage to equipment, no injuries reported and no danger to the public based on the location of the fire.

After putting the fire out, crews remained at the plant to monitor the silo’s temperature before clearing the scene at 1:30 p.m.

Since the hard-to-reach fire could only be put out with foam, plant operators contacted firefighters with the sheriff’s office, Crawford said. The plant planned to keep roving fire watches and foam equipment on-site throughout the night, she added.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 @ 05:01 PM gHale

An ammonia leak near a Buckeye, AZ, fertilizer company caused evacuations and road closures Wednesday was the result of an off-site spill of water containing ammonium hydroxide, officials said.

The smell of ammonia ended up reported to authorities at 5:52 a.m. near Fertizona, located near Buckeye.

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The Buckeye Valley Fire District and several other agencies determined the source of the smell was likely a small, off-site spill of water containing ammonium hydroxide.

Unknown people not affiliated with Fertizona caused the spill sometime during the night, officials said

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality authorities confirmed the Fertizona plant and ammonia-storage facilities were not responsible for the odor, and all of Fertizona’s ammonia-related systems were functioning properly.

Employees at a nearby concrete company, Quikrete, smelled the chemical Wednesday morning and alerted authorities. About 40 people in the concrete company’s building evacuated, said Cliff Turner, Buckeye Valley Fire District spokesman.

No one was at work yet at Fertizona, Turner said.

Hazardous-materials teams from Buckeye, Surprise, Glendale, Goodyear and Phoenix responded to the call. Twenty-two units were at the scene.

Turner said the ammonia was dispersing and was not fully concentrated in one area.

Ammonia can burn the skin and lungs, but no one in the area had yet reported burns or dizziness, Turner said.

Fertizona is an agricultural fertilizer and crop-protection retailer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 @ 03:01 PM gHale
Firefighters work to put out a fire at a Liberty, ME, manufacturing facility, which ended up a total loss.

Firefighters work to put out a fire at a Liberty, ME, manufacturing facility, which ended up a total loss.

A Liberty, ME, manufacturing facility is a total loss after it went up in flames Sunday night causing several explosions due to hazardous materials inside.

Truck accessory product maker, Magnum Manufacturing Inc. caught on fire at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night as fire crews from nearly a dozen towns responded to the blaze.

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One man, believed to be the person leasing the space, ended rushed to an area hospital with burns. Officials said they were non-life threatening.

Firefighters battled some harsh temperatures making their efforts even more challenging.

“We had snow just last night. You start putting water on it, it was freezing instantaneously,” Liberty Fire Chief Bill Gillespie said. “We have firefighters trying to move around on ice it’s like skating with a charged line in your hand. It was next to impossible.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating the cause of the fire.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 @ 05:12 PM gHale

The Northwest’s only nuclear power plant suffered an unplanned shutdown just before noon Sunday.

The shutdown was the result of an equipment malfunction at the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) substation near the Richland, WA-based Columbia Generating Station, operated by Energy Northwest.

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The cold weather caused the loss of the 500-kilovolt line connecting the nuclear plant’s main output transformers to the substation.

The power plant’s operating crew successfully stabilized the plant and officials for Energy Northwest said it remains safe.

After the outage, crews discovered a leak in the plant’s high-pressure cooling system, a standby system that cools the nuclear reactor core in event of an emergency. The leak was unrelated to the outage, said Mike Paoli, a spokesman for Energy Northwest.

The system leaked water and was a “minor maintenance issue,” Paoli said. The leak ended up fixed by Tuesday night, Paoli said.

A report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the leak was not an emergency but the plant could not operate until they were able to fix it.

Though the leak is now repaired, the plant will not resume operations until the BPA takes corrective action to prevent the equipment from malfunctioning again, Paoli said.

It will likely be a few days until the plant is operating again, Paoli said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 11:12 AM gHale

There was another power outage in the Ukraine last weekend and after last year’s hack attack the first thing anyone would think is “here we go again.”

And while that may be the case, officials are still not sure of the cause of the power outage.

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National energy company Ukrenergo experienced the power outage on Saturday night, with director Vsevolod Kovalchuk explaining in a post on Facebook the blackout affected the northern part of Kiev and surrounding areas.

Ukrenergo engineers switched to manual mode and started restoring power in 30 minutes, Kovalchuk said in a published report. The blackout ended up repaired in full an hour and fifteen minutes after it occurred, he said.

The outage could be an “external interference through data network,” Kovalchuk said, adding the cyber security team is working on the case and more information should be provided soon.

Last year around this time, a group of hackers shut down the power grid in Ukraine after successfully infecting systems with malware and breaking down operating systems to prevent engineers from restoring them quickly.

Attackers used malware attacks BlackEnergy and KillDisk to compromise the network and then to render systems unusable by making them impossible to boot. It took six hours to completely restore power in Ukraine following the incident, with local security experts blaming Russia for the attack.

At least 225,000 people lost power in the incident. Operators watched helplessly while someone remotely operated the grid. The one saving grace was because of how old the infrastructure was, it helped. They were able to manually bring the grid back up.

Kovalchuk said this time the power grid experienced “a failure in automation control,” and this is why it was necessary to switch to manual control. The same manual workaround also ended up used last year.

No one has confirmed if this latest outage was a cyberattack.

Monday, December 19, 2016 @ 05:12 PM gHale

A home explosion in the vicinity of a gas leak left two Homer Glen, IL, residents with injuries Thursday afternoon.

A Nicor gas leak occurred at 1:30 p.m. and all residents within a half-mile radius ended up ordered to evacuate, fire officials said.

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The injured, a father and daughter, went to Silver Cross Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, officials said. They later ended up airlifted to a burn unit at Loyola University Medical Hospital, said Mayor George Yukich.

Automated calls went out around 4:30 p.m. telling people to evacuate immediately, and as of 10:28 p.m., the gas leak had been capped, officials said.

The house was about two blocks away from the leak, Yukich said.

“No one knows for sure what happened,” he said.

Nicor said its employees “worked throughout the night to locate and stop the source of the … leak.”

The company said “the area is safe and repairs remain ongoing.” There were still 23 customers without natural gas service as of early Friday morning, Nicor officials said. Service to those customers will end up restored once workers make the repairs, the company said.

At an 8 p.m. news conference, Nicor spokesman Joe DelReal said Nicor still had not found why the home exploded in the 14100 block of Parker Road.

Nicor crews, which had been on the scene since 2:49 p.m, had tried to isolate the area. But not everyone left their homes, officials said.

About 12 to 16 homes continued to be without gas Thursday night and those residents had to make other arrangements, DelReal said.

Todd Fanfara, deputy chief of the Northwest Homer Fire Protection District, said his department got the call at 1:30 p.m. to check on a report of a gas leak and called Nicor.

While public safety workers were going door to door to evacuate people, the home exploded at 4:12 p.m., Fanfara said.

On Thursday night, dozens of evacuees were eating pizza and swapping stories at the village hall.

DelReal said he had “no idea” when they would be able to return home.

When asked if he was concerned about another explosion, DelReal said, crews were to continually monitor the gas levels in the area.

Monday, December 19, 2016 @ 04:12 PM gHale
The IKS-WR7413 IP dome camera is the first line of defense for monitoring what is happening outdoors even in complete darkness.

The IKS-WR7413 IP dome camera is the first line of defense for monitoring what is happening outdoors even in complete darkness.

The IKS-WR7413 IP dome camera from Toshiba serves as a first line of defense for schools and businesses, monitoring everything happening outdoors even in complete darkness.

With its three-megapixel video resolution and bright LED IR illuminators, the IKS-WR7413 provides video, ensuring around-the-clock safety and security.

The IKS-WR7413 delivers 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution or 30 percent more area coverage than an 1080p HD camera, along with four simultaneous video streams to help reduce the number of cameras installed. Higher resolution, combined with a 2.8-8mm varifocal lens, means the IKS-WR7413 can end up adjusted to cover a wide field-of-view or narrow its focus to a smaller area for additional detail. Because night time surveillance is crucial to any security program, the IKS-WR7413 also has four adaptive infrared LEDs that enable it to capture images up to 25 feet away in the complete absence of light. Night vision is further enhanced by Toshiba’s True Day/Night Imaging technology that converts blurry color images into crisp black and white video when monitoring in darkness.

The camera can record video using two different codecs: H.264 or Motion JPEG for maximum network efficiency at up to 30 frames-per-second. Along with simple integration with a Toshiba NVR or other ONVIF compliant recorder, the IKS-WR7413 has a memory card slot, so it can store up to 64GB of video or JPEG images locally.

Standard cameras cannot end up used outdoors without damage occurring to their sensitive internal networking components. The IKS-WR7413 was environmentally engineered with an IP66-certified housing that protects it from dust and jets of water, so it will withstand not just rain and snow but being washed down with a hose. It’s operating range of 14° to 122° F qualifies it for reliable installation in outdoor spaces subject to wide temperature swings.

Friday, December 16, 2016 @ 05:12 PM gHale

There was a natural gas explosion at the Williams Gas Compressor Station near Wharton, PA, Monday.

Everyone on site are accounted for and not injured, said officials from the Austin and Coudersport Fire Departments.

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As of 5 p.m., two Coudersport Engines, one Austin Engine and two Austin Ambulances are on standby at the site of the explosion.

All fire teams had to wait for Williams Gas employees to shut off surrounding gas wells. Once that happened, the fire teams went in to fight the remaining fire.

The cause of the explosion is currently speculative – the initial thinking was there was a break in the main line which caused the explosion. Fire police said there is an estimate of 80 wells located around the site.

From an outside assessment, there is two separate fires that have occurred as a result of the explosion. One fire engulfed an unidentifiable structure while a smaller fire was seen by the dehydration towers.

Williams Gas Company and local fire outfits run a yearly drill should an explosion like this happen, said firefighter Darren Vanwhy.

Williams Gas Company spokesperson Chris Stockton released the following statement:

“At approximately 3:07 p.m. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC experienced a fire at its dehydration facility at Station 535 in Potter County, Pa. There were no injuries and all facility personnel are accounted for.

“There is no danger to the general public and customer deliveries have not been impacted. The facility’s emergency systems have been activated and local Potter County emergency responders are at the scene. Company personnel are currently working to isolate the source of the fire. The cause of the incident and extent of damages are not known at this time.”

On Tuesday Stockton said the fire was completely extinguished at 6:40 p.m. Monday and the facility is currently shut down.

Williams is working with appropriate regulatory agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident and initiate repairs, Stockton said. The extent of the damages are still in the process of undergoing assessment. No one is sure yet how long the facility will be out of service.

Stockton also mentioned the level of preparedness the first responders and Williams crew members had during the incident.

“We invest a lot of time in training and coordinating drills between our staff and local responders,” Stockton said. “When incidents do happen, it’s reassuring to see that our staff and the responders are ready, as was the case last night.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 @ 11:12 AM gHale

Oil spilled into Ash Coulee Creek northwest of Belfield, ND, last week.

Oil spilled into Ash Coulee Creek northwest of Belfield, ND, last week.

Over 176,000 gallons of oil leaked from a Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. pipeline last week, with 130,200 gallons spilling into a tributary of the Little Missouri River and another 46,200 gallons flowing into a hillside, officials said Monday.

The spill discovered by a landowner Dec. 5 did not end up detected by monitoring equipment on the pipeline, which is owned by of True Companies of Wyoming.

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The spill has contaminated 5.4 miles of Ash Coulee Creek but does not appear to have reached the Little Missouri River, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health.

The spill estimate of 4,200 barrels, or 176,400 gallons, is a “rough estimate” provided by the company, Suess said. Cleanup crews had recovered 878 barrels, or 36,876 gallons, of oil as of Sunday night.

At least two cows have been confirmed dead in the area of the oil spill, but the cause of death has not been verified by a veterinarian, Suess said. Crews assisted the landowner in moving cattle away from the creek and have trucked in water, he said.

It’s unknown how long the pipeline, built in the 1980s, had been leaking before the landowner discovered it.

The pipeline had pressure gauges and meters to monitor for leaks, said Kevin Connors, pipelines program supervisor for the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.

The company also does aerial inspections of the pipeline about twice a month, Connors said.

Why the monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak is part of an ongoing investigation, said True Companies spokeswoman Wendy Owen. The pipeline does not have a constant flow, which may have masked the leak from being detected, she said.

The 6-inch pipeline, which transports an average of 1,000 barrels of oil per day though rugged Badlands terrain, is buried in a hill that is slumping, Suess said. Crews have been unable to investigate further because the hillside is unstable, he said.

“Whether the slumping contributed to the break or the break contributed to the slumping, we don’t know yet,” Suess said.

The pipeline shut down after officials discovered the spill and they capped it at the spill location.

The company is working with SWAT Consulting, a spill response company based in Alberta, Suess said. An additional 60 workers should come in this week to assist.

“The weather continues to still be the issue because the safety and security of the responders is our No. 1 priority,” Owen said.

The spill affected privately owned land as well as U.S. Forest Service land, Owen said.

“It’s very, very remote,” Owen said. “The terrain, the topography itself does make access points difficult.”

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

A fire at Rocky Mountain Power’s Rigby Substation Wednesday was the result of a failure of a voltage monitoring device.

The device is designed to protect company and customer electronics, said spokesman Dave Eskelsen. When the device failed, it triggered other safety mechanisms to open all circuits and shut down the substation for safety.

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The substation serves upper valley customers and the area north and west of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Technicians restored the Rigby substation and it came back online Thursday morning, bypassing the failed equipment.

Rocky Mountain Power technicians said the cause of a fire at its Rigby substation Wednesday night is still uncertain.

Spokesman Dave Eskelsen in Salt Lake City said as soon as the outage began at around 10:20 p.m. crews began working to restore power to around 27,000 customers from other directions.

Most were restored, in stages, by midnight with another large group of customers coming back on line at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

Around 800 customers in the Lewisville and Rigby area, served by a Menan substation, ended up restored in stages at 6:59 a.m. and 7:36 a.m. Eskelsen said it appeared that outage was a separate problem that had to be repaired by a lineman.

Rocky Mountain Power crews were expected to be working Thursday on restoring normal operations to the Rigby substation. Eskelsen said that work should not interrupt power to customers.