Saskatoon Light & Power: Workplace Safety Case Study (subtitled)

November 5, 2019 posted by


it’s an infamous day for us may 7th was
a Monday and that weekend before we had heavy rain Saturday on the Sunday on the
corner of 24th Street and 2nd Avenue the street filled with water and overflowed
into our underground vault so these vaults are a cement hole in the
ground that would be 40 feet long 10 feet high and 10 feet wide and it
completely filled up with water this particular vaults would have powered
buildings like the base side and then maybe about 4 or 5 other buildings in
that area and we found out later that the sump pump was trying to pump water
out of the vault but it ended up pumping into a collapsed catch basin which means
that the water was just circulating back into the vault so we were dispatched
there to drain the water if you will so we go there with a very big pump and
away we go we’re shooting it actually across the street to another dream that
was working two hours later of pumping we get about half way done one of the
co-workers wanted to go down and see what was wrong and we kind of voted
against it just didn’t quite feel right we get about halfway done draining this
vault and just out of nowhere we get a large explosion first phone call was to our SCADA system
and that was to dump all power that goes in or out of that vault right. As soon as
we receive that call our due diligence is to turn that power off as soon as
possible. ” Yeah, SCADA, we just lost vault 12 she blew up on us here …. we got big fire here – GET AWAY CHRIS … yeah the roof’s even bowing out here …. you got it off? I’m working on it.” so there was I believe about eight
feeders to shut down that are in and around that vault and to me it felt like
forever till the power was off. Two breakers open just getting the last one on (come on come on). So we
went through the steps and shut the system down turning off half of the
downtown core all the traffic lights were out
so it was just total chaos trying to get downtown while everybody else is trying
to get out of it when we showed up it was steam and smoke
pouring out you could hear the odd mini explosion still of processors and
everything they had letting go inside the hole you could hear it all burning
still we didn’t have time yet to phone fire but they showed up the person that
called it in was over a block away they thought it was an earthquake that’s how
much force was through the ground police showed up and then from there we’re
coordinating street closures, sidewalk closures, “I need a crew at south central to open up the switch gear – I need another crew at Avenue C to open up the switch gear there as well” I’m coordinating with the other crews over a handheld radio system to get crews where I need them at our different sub
stations at manholes adjacent to both ends of the vault okay “Get me more guys over here – we’re going to need more bodies” normally we find an
in rush of people coming in with whatever information they have at the
time is there an injuries is there a major
catastrophe we have no real idea what’s happened something could very well have
happened I mean there’s a lot of foot traffic over our vaults so it was my job to suit up with the
firefighters and to go down the hole with him and he was to follow me all the
way around to see what actually blew up and see if it was safe I’m just an
electrician I’m not a firefighter I’m not prepared I’m not trained to go into
an area like this it’s pitch black there’s no power in there everything’s
burnt I had no idea what I was about to see when I go down there there’s about
three inches of sludge in the bottom of the floor it’s pitch black there’s no
power in there everything’s burnt everything’s charred around me
I was in there for about six or seven minutes making sure that it was that the
fire was isolated to the one incident where one protector that blew up
checking the cables over quickly making sure that we didn’t have a hot spot that
still needed to be attended because of the toxic gases it can be produced from
the cables and the equipment every grade had burn marks on its concrete from the
roof seem to have cracked you could see cables or the ribs of the concentric
mutual’s we’re showing light fixtures that melted down to the grounds the
shell of the protector has holes in it indicating that there was an extreme
amount of pressure and heat that blew out really thick steel the innards are
just completely destroyed what I’m guessing is the protector
gasket failed just maybe got crushed under so much pressure
also maybe result of it being too old because this protector is probably a
protector from the late 60s and water entered in the water and contaminants
just caused an arc it can take an hour to two hours to find out exactly what
happened we sit here and worry you know is there somebody hurt is what’s what’s
happening you know there’s a lot of different things go through your mind
while you’re waiting for what’s what’s going to come next everything from this
point was still intact but all charred with with smoke and debris but the flash
actually happened all radiant amongst us here right from the side of the
protector onto the wall where you can actually see in the wall that it’s
actually still got as metal burnt into it and it’s actually spoiled all this
meant off from the explosion this here is the grating that the fire first came
out of and I was over here on these slabs close to the entry point those are
the ones that took the brunt to the force and they are approximately 3,500
pounds each the heat that come out of this thing was astronomical it was
moving cement slabs the way 3500 pounds and we usually use 220 ton jacks to pick
them up to break him loose that explosion was able to move them
freely on its own some stuff I do remember is the the
eerie quiet on the on the crew that was working that day when they were when
they actually saw firsthand what could happen
there was a was a weird mood there was quiet there’s a lot of humble people
that day it was one thing to take and have the explosion it’s another thing to
explain to your crew that you’re gonna go back in this hole that just blew up then re-terminate everything and turn
it back on hopefully this fast as you. ” “Saskatoon Light and Power” “Just wondering if there is any update on repairs to the downtown district” ” the crew is there working on it we’re just waiting to hear back from them.” “Roadways just called me and they wondered whether or not this was going to be continuing through rush hour.” “We’ll leave 8 off until we know what going on on vault 12” it was an amazing day our crew
stepped up to the challenge “Any news yet? This is Midtown Plaza calling … once that’s done I’ll start putten’ the grounds in … we have a crew out there working on it right now … … how long is it going to take
us to disconnect those splices and cap um we’re trying to get some information for
Trevor so you can update the media either 11 a is caps either 11 a they
just worked through any little bit of adversity they were coming across that
day so it was everybody sure rose up it was a good team effort Just another 10 minutes here Rod and Kevin figures he’ll ready to pull those in, … should be restored by 4:30 and what I can see the king Jordans on ok thank you you’re
welcome I’m just gonna run down one sec make
sure everything’s still all lined up and then we’re gonna go ahead and close
sound good after the explosion happened absolutely
stuff changed we’ve made more provisions on on how to make stuff safer how to
more informed individuals of what their potentials are going down in these
locations it’s changed everybody’s perspective so it did bring out some
good we started our network protector
maintenance program and started replacing all the gaskets in all of our
old protectors our people here not just in the small
situation work in a very high-risk environment we rely on each other
so much that person beside me needs to have the same safety philosophy as I
have that we both want to go home and we’re going to look after each other
as well as ourselves to make sure we have a safe working environment

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