Gut Rumbles

July 23, 2003

today sucked

The shutdown was just as bad as I expected it to be. Things were going fairly well until a goddam semi-hurricane blew over the plant at about 1530 today and the lights went out. Everything crashed and burned.

My shift supervisor was over in personnel dealing with a termination issue and I was running the show.

I knew from the outage where the problem was, but even GOOD electricians (and thank Bejus I have a couple of good ones) don't like resetting 13,800-volt breakers in a driving rainstorm. I don't like that, either. Shit can blow up and kill you when you do that.

I am good with all the hazardous materials. Give me acid, chlorine, caustic, titanium tetrachloride and every bit of the rest I deal with. I can handle it. I am trained and certified to deal with that lethal crap. It doesn't frighten me.

But you show me a substation door with "DANGER: 13,800 VOLTS," and I am out of my comfort zone there. I don't like to be around it, I don't like to open those doors and I wish fervently that I never had to do any of that crap. But I HAVE TO sometimes, and I am eternally grateful that I have electricians who can handle that shit in a driving rainstorm.

Nothing blew up and the electricians restored power. After that, it was my job to get everything running again. I KNOW how to do that.

I must admit one thing. "Reddy Killowatt" is no friend of mine.


I shoulda put YOU in charge of hazardous waste or power plants......

Glad you're home and safe now.

Posted by: Da Goddess on July 23, 2003 07:08 PM

I'm an electrical engineer by profession, and I'm not comfortable around anything more than 480V stuff. The 5kV stuff has my utmost respect. The 15kV stuff my fear. Higher than that, I don't get near.

I've seen a LOT of blown-up switchgear.

Posted by: Kevin Baker on July 23, 2003 07:09 PM

Heh. Why just the other day I got to reset some 500KV (!) disconnects after a power plant outage. (resetting involves engaging a motor clutch then getting out of the switchyard while the disconnect motor is remotely operated to close the disconnect). Now the line we're shutting the disconnects in is not live (for anyone who doesn't know, disconnects are not designed to work under load.) My SS says something like "too bad it's daytime. At night you can see the sparks."

Well, the static charge was enough to make probably a foot and a half spark jump across to the disconnect bar from the line. And let me tell you, you could see it just fine in the daytime.

Don't ever let anyone tell you you need a current loop to getcherself killed. I'm pretty sure that a spark that size could have put a hole in me, even if it was just static.

I'll have to agree with you on this, Rob. Electricity is good, and important. It's not something to try and be friends with. Especially not in rain like you get in that part of the US.

Posted by: Steve Sandvik on July 23, 2003 07:30 PM

It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change.

Posted by: Rosenbloom Phil on May 3, 2004 02:09 PM
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