By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE fire that broke out at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s Clifton Pier plant on Sunday was likely due to the corporation’s continued use of “ancient equipment,” Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard said yesterday.
His statements came after BEC officials said one employee was not burned but suffered a minor injury during attempts to put out the fire.
Officials said the fire was caused by a turbo charger failure on a 10 megawatt diesel engine at the plant. They said their initial investigations revealed that the turbo charger’s lubricating oil and “inherent high temperatures” caused the blaze.
However, Mr Maynard said while the physical fire may have started from “oil leaking” on a “very hot engine,” the underlying problem is the age of BEC’s equipment.
“It’s ancient equipment,” he said. “That engine is over 40 years old. That been there from the 70s, so there we have it. When I tell people all the stuff that we go through to keep these engines running they don’t believe me.”
The fire broke out shortly after 11am on Sunday. Shortly thereafter, a video of the fire was subsequently posted to social media. In it, a man was seen using a water hose in an attempt to extinguish the blaze, which appeared to be one storey above ground level.
BEC officials on Monday released a statement about the fire and the video.
They said an employee suffered a “non-burn related” injury in attempting to fight the blaze, but was treated and released from hospital the same day.
Officials said the fire was “immediately contained” by trained employees with “fire suppression equipment available on site”. They also said the fire department was called to provide assistance.
The statement said once the fire started, the affected engine and its fuel source were “immediately shut down” to prevent further damage. Thanks to “standard operating procedures”, officials said the fire was extinguished within 30 minutes of the initial ignition with “no damage to any of BEC’s other equipment at the power station”.
Regarding the video, the statement said it was “regrettable” that the footage was circulated “causing public alarm,” but at no time was there “any significant danger to life or any other equipment at the corporation’s Clifton Pier Power Station”.
To prevent fires and further complications, Mr Maynard yesterday said a complete change of fuel and equipment at the corporation would be necessary, the price tag of which would be somewhere in the millions.