Altitec, the turbine blade access, and repair specialist have revealed that two of its technicians were working up-tower at a site in Mexico when last month’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck. The two technicians were in the process of carrying out standard inspection and repair services on one of 15 turbines at a wind farm near Juchitan in Oaxaca. The work had to be abandoned and has yet to resume because of the risks posed to the team by aftershocks in the region.
At least 217 people died in what was Mexico’s most powerful earthquake since 1985. Dozens of buildings have also been destroyed, including more than 40 in the country’s capital, Mexico City.
“All our turbine blade technicians hold the highest certifications for working at height and are very confident in this environment,” said Drew Sampson, Wind Operations Manager, Altitec Group. “But the team were shocked and disturbed to feel the turbine moving beneath them whilst hanging from ropes more than 80m in the air. We were glad to have them back on the ground,”
“The team had completed repairs to two of the 15 towers before the earthquake struck and they were forced to return to the ground,” Added Sampson. “For the time being the maintenance project is on hold, until it is safe for the work to continue.”
Supporting the local community
The earthquake also knocked out the on-site high voltage power supply, meaning the team was unable to rotate the turbine blades into the correct position to continue their repair work. The team had initially hoped to continue the repairs at a later point, but due to the risks posed by aftershocks have had to abandon the site completely, which has since experienced four more significant aftershocks in the past two weeks.
“We’re obviously very relieved that both of our technicians were unhurt in the incident, and reacted quickly and professionally to get down from the tower and out of harm’s way,” said Tom Dyffort, Managing Director, Altitec Group.
He added: “The local communities where our teams work are important to us, so as a business we’ll be supporting the relief effort in the hope that the region can find its feet again as quickly as possible.
Altitec hopes to return and complete the project before the end of the year. Conscious of the devastating effect the quake has had on the region, and the significant loss of life, Altitec intends to donate its profits from the work to relief agencies operating in the region.”