‘Pure technical reasons’ behind Kulekhani fire

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    KATHMANDU, MAY 01 –

    kulekhani damaged transformersA committee formed to investigate the fire that broke out at 32MW Kulekhani Hydropower Project-II on April 16 has concluded that the incident took place due to “pure technical reasons” and that no human error can be blamed.

    The study report submitted to the Ministry of Energy on Monday stated that the fire broke out as the transformers had been overused beyond their life. “No planned destruction or human error by the project’s technicians could be seen,” states the report. Power generation from the plant was halted after three of its transformers were damaged by the blaze.

    MoE Joint Secretary Sri Ranjan Lakoul, coordinator of the probe committee, said the fire broke out after the ‘Y’ Phase transformer exploded and damaged other two — ‘R’ and ‘B’ Phase transformers.

    Although the committee could not find what exactly led to the fire outbreak, it suspected that lightening might have hit the transformer. The transformers, installed in 1985, had been in operation for the last 28 years. Takaoka Engineer Co Ltd of Japan, after conducting a technical study on the project’s transformers in March 2010, had said either they should either be repaired or changed. “However, the recommendation was ignored,” said the report.

    Lakoul said all three transformers have caught fire one after another in the last one year. “The ‘B’ Phase transformer had caught fire eight months ago, while the ‘R’ Phase had exploded last year,” he said.

    The transformers imported from Korea at the time of the construction of the project were repaired by Japanese technicians a couple of years ago.

    Officials at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and the project, however, said it has signed a tender agreement with the Nepal Hydro and Electric Company to procure a new transformer for the project one and half months ago. “The company was awarded the tender as it committed to bring in a China-made transformer at around Rs 30 million,” said Project Chief Krishna Prasad Yadav.

    Project officials said the company will bring a ‘3’ phase transformer within the next five months. “Previously, there were three ‘1’ phase transformers, but only one will be installed now,” said Yadav.

    Meanwhile, the project has brought a transformer from the Gandak Hydropower Project to replace the damaged transformer at the project and to bring the project into operation at the earliest.

    Yadav said the 10 mpA transformer will take a week to get installed. Once it is installed, the project will generate energy up to 9MW, according to the report.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post