Wednesday 23 August 2017

Lucky escape for worker as his vehicle bursts into flames at ESB station

Pat Flynn

A machine operator had a lucky escape after his vehicle burst into flames while he was unloading coal from a ship at one of the country's largest electricity generation stations.

The man was working at the ESB's power station at Moneypoint in Co Clare on Monday night when the incident occurred. The worker was operating a stacker/reclaimer which caught fire without him realising it.

Another worker had to alert the driver who managed to jump to safety before the vehicle was engulfed in flames. The alarm was quickly raised and the fire service notified. Two units of the fire brigade from Kilrush rushed to the scene where they were faced with a significant blaze.

Fire crews spent over an hour battling the fire and remained at the scene for a further four and a half hours "as a precautionary measure to ensure that no re-ignition took place," the fire service confirmed.

The stacker/reclaimer was extensively damaged in the incident and could take up to 8 weeks to repair and return to service. However, the facility has a replacement machine to continue the work.

The stacker/reclaimers are used to unload coal from ships and pile it up in the coal yard while they also reclaim the coal and take it to the station when it is needed.

Passing motorists and locals from the nearby village of Killimer braved the bitter cold to the drama from a church carpark which overlooks the plant.

"I thought the ship was on fire when I saw it first but then I saw the flames were a bit closer than that. There was a huge cloud of black smoke blowing towards Kilrush and the flames were massive. It looked like the fuel or hydraulic fluid caught fire too," a local man said.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been informed of the incident and are expected to undertake their own investigations.

An ESB spokesman said: "A fire occurred at Moneypoint Power Station at in a machine for stacking and reclaiming coal. Two units of the fire brigade attended the scene and quickly brought the fire under control. There were no injuries from this incident."

The company also confirmed: "An investigation will be carried out by ESB into the circumstances. The HSA and EPA have been notified."

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