A controlled demolition of the cooling towers of a disused power station recently caused a massive power outage in Oxfordshire. Energy supplier Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed that the power outage affected approximately 49,000 homes.
The energy firm had initially believed that the demolition was not linked to the power outage. They have since admitted that it was indeed the direct cause. They also said their engineers were alerted to a fault in the Sutton Courtenay area four minutes after the detonation.
Didcot Demolition Videos Go Viral
The three cooling towers stand 375ft tall and were demolished on a Sunday morning with explosive charges. Despite the early time, many onlookers witnessed the demolition and many videos were posted online.
Some footage appeared to show nearby electricity pylons being set on fire after the collapse of the massive concrete towers. Witnesses said the pylons were connected to an overhead power line which caught fire around ten seconds after the detonation. The BBC quotes one onlooker as saying: “[The fire] started with a bit of smoke, then a huge bright blue light and lots of noise before turning bright orange.”
SSEN eventually admitted that a minimum of 40,000 customers in Didcot as well as South and North Moreton lost power. The power cut lasted for an hour and twenty minutes, from 7am to 8.20am.
The three towers demolished were the northern towers, with the three southern towers having been demolished back in 2014. The recent demolition had been planned for months by contractor Brown and Mason with the site’s owner and local authorities.
Debris Protection Failure Blamed for Power Outage
Energy firm SSEN said in a statement: “During the demolition, a large section of debris protection material became detached from one of the cooling towers and made contact with our 33kV overhead line, which was outside of the advised perimeter. This resulted in significant damage to the overhead line and subsequent network faults. The company is working with the station owner, RWE, to investigate the network fault.
“It asks that those affected contact the company through the power cut helpline 105. SSEN takes its responsibility to public safety seriously. We are aware of reports of minor injuries and damage caused by the incident at Sutton Courtenay and are working with the police and other agencies to identify those impacted.”
The disused power station’s owner RWE Power also released a statement, saying: “The three cooling towers at Didcot A power station are down. We have received the SSE statement on the power cut and we will look at this very carefully and further investigate what has exactly happened.”
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