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17 die at Russia’s largest hydroelectric plant

17 August 2009

An accident at Russia's largest hydroelectric power station on 17th August killed seventeen workers and shut down the plant, forcing Siberian aluminium smelters to find alternative power supplies. An apparent hydraulic surge or a sharp increase in pressure caused pipes to burst at the RusHydro owned Sayano-Shushenskaya power station, in the Yenisei River in Northern Siberia, flooding a turbine house.

Hydroelectric power station
Hydroelectric power station

The stream of water was so strong, some workers did not have time to leave the station and were trapped. As well as the eight people killed, ten people were injured. The accident caused an oil spill, and the slick floated 5km down the Yenisei from the plant.
It will take several years, rather than months to restore the pipes ruptured in the accident, and the damage is likely to amount to hundreds of millions of rubles.
Ageing infrastructure has long been regarded as a key obstacle to Russia's development. Russia needs to boost its power production significantly to meet the growing demand of industrial producers or it would face regular power shortages as soon as several years from now. August’s accident put these plans in jeopardy.


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