Eskom investigating coal silo collapse

07 November 2014 - 18:45 By Sapa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

An investigation is under way into the collapse of a coal storage silo at the Majuba power station in Mpumalanga, Eskom said on Friday.

"Until we know the full facts with certainty, it serves no purpose to speculate," Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona told reporters in Johannesburg.

Silo 20, which held more than 10,000 tons of coal, collapsed on Saturday, affecting coal supplies to all six units at the power station.

"The recovery team, which consists of engineering and technical experts, is already working to find the cause of the collapse," Matona said.

Eskom group executives Steven Lenton, Thava Govender, Mongezi Nsokolo, Matshela Koko, and Dan Marokane were also at the briefing.

Marokane, who was promoted from acting group executive this week, would lead the team.

Matona described the collapse as "an unexpected event" which was "dire at the time", but said the power utility's speedy response resulted in power cuts around the country being limited to Sunday.

Govender said the investigation was expected to take three to six months.

Currently, mobile feeders were being used to get coal into the station.

The main priority was to bring the power station back to full capacity and make it safe to work in.

Eskom was looking at more permanent solutions to protect its infrastructure and prevent power cuts, such developing an inspection plan, which would be used monitor the condition of the site.

Koko gave assurances that coal storage silos at power stations in the rest of the country were not at risk of collapse.

He disputed claims that the use of wet coal at Majuba had caused the silo's collapse and said there was no indication that it was about to fail. When it was inspected in September last year there were no problems.

"The investigation will identify the cause of the incident, but it appears it was an isolated incident which was specific to coal structures at Majuba."

The cost of the investigation would be announced once it was completed.