HOME MINING NEWS BLOG DOWNLOADS TRAINING PARTNERS LEGAL MINING LAWS ABOUT US CONTACT US
(GMT +2)
 
Mining News
Managing the fire risk of transformer explosions at substations
18 February 2020
Managing the fire risk of transformer explosions at substations

One of the largest and busiest airports in Africa, OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, was plunged into temporary darkness on Sunday 12 December after a transformer at a substation in Kempton caught fire. While this highlights the vulnerability of such critical electrical infrastructure, there are various measures that local authorities can implement in order to manage the fire risk, ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk highlights.

The fact that substations, by their nature, do not have personnel means there is no one to raise an alert in the event of any incident. In addition, a lack of maintenance also means an increased likelihood of such incidents. The situation is exacerbated by load shedding, which results in current inrushes when the power is restored, which can damage components such as ageing electrical insulation, and the potential of transformer fires.

Some substations are in very remote areas, or in locations that are difficult to access after normal business hours. This means that installing a standalone fire-detection system is recommended to protect high-risk items such as transformers, which are used to step down the electricity from 33 000 V to 11 000 V or 6 000 V. In addition, a fire-suppression system using foam mist can be highly effective.

However, the dangerous combination of load shedding and a lack of preventative maintenance can result in arc flashes, which are basically mini lightning bolts that can cause the insulation in substations to start burning. A lack of adequate maintenance of the cooling oil in a transformer can cause hot-spot temperatures that result in bubbles in the oil which, combined with high temperatures, increase internal tank pressure, and may result in overflow or tank rupture.

ASP Fire can supply and install fire-suppression systems that are standalone, meaning they do not have to rely on pumps and water-storage tanks in the event of a fire. Water is, instead, stored in nearby pressure vessels, which has the added benefit of minimising the quantity of water needed to suppress a fire.

The major problem, however, remains the lack of adequate maintenance. “We are all aware of the challenges faced by local government in maintaining essential infrastructure. Ageing substations that are not well-maintained to begin with are increasingly vulnerable to load shedding, which is a recipe for disaster,” van Niekerk warns.

While a simple solution is to install adequate fire detection and suppression systems, this is hampered by the lack of necessary funding. Therefore, carrying out preventative maintenance will ensure that substations are robust enough to cope with load shedding, and also allow local authorities to save on capex costs.

While local authorities have to adhere to strict regulations in terms of electrical safety, the installation of fire detection and suppression systems is not mandatory. An exception is the mining industry, which operates its own substations. Here electricity is essential to ensure life-critical equipment such as ventilation shafts and personnel lifts are operational at all times.

“At the end of the day, the knock-on effect on the entire South African economy is huge,” van Niekerk stresses. “The cost in replacing a single transformer is prohibitive, which behoves local authorities to ensure they have a maintenance schedule in place, or have conducted some kind of fire-risk assessment, even if they are not in the financial position to install proper fire detection and suppression systems.”
 

Archive
News ArticleView Article
Getting to Grips with Mining Insurance Rates View
Aurecon plays a vital role in ensuring water security for South Africa View
Global teamwork procures masks for Cummins employees in China View
Bobcat Shop to offer unique merchandise at NAMPO 2020 View
Cummins is advancing gender equality View
Intelligent automation of data management is an imperative in a skills-scarce environment View
Cummins scales up the gas-power game with the new C25G natural-gas generator series View
EM launches 2020 catalogue with 450 new products and latest brands View
Pratley develops another cable gland world-first View
ASP Fire assists architects to make modern buildings safe View
12345678910...
Our Partners
ArriveAlive ALCO-Safe
Alcohol Breathalysers PSA
HSE Solutions Old Mutual iWyze
Ctrack Intelligent Solutions Win a Billboard
Become a Partner Become a Partner
Not Just a Delivery Vehicle
Links
Quick Links
News
  • Getting to Grips with Mining Insura
  • Aurecon plays a vital role in ensur
  • Global teamwork procures masks for
  • Bobcat Shop to offer unique merchan
  • Cummins is advancing gender equalit
  • Intelligent automation of data mana
  • Cummins scales up the gas-power gam
  • EM launches 2020 catalogue with 450
  • Pratley develops another cable glan
  • ASP Fire assists architects to make
  •        Articles
  • What is a water audit and why does
  • What to Consider When Hiring Equipm
  • How to Apply for Mining Finance
  • Top Tips for Improving Welding Safe
  • Behaviour based safety programmes r
  • Training and preparedness the steps
  • DRA Sets Gold Standard On Elikhulu
  • How drones are assisting companies
  • Dangerous jobs: what is and is not
  • Safety Tips for Working With a Dump
  •        Useful Links
  • Mining Laws
  • Training
  • Downloads
  • Blog
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Home  |   Contact  |   Browser  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy Policy  |   CMS    
    © 2020 Mining Safety