Eskom halts all projects after six die

By Helen Wright04 November 2013

South Africa power company Eskom has ordered work to stop at all of its construction sites after an incident at a pumped storage project involving 13 employees left six dead.

The incident happened at its Ingula pumped storage construction site near Ladysmith, in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Six construction employees lost their lives and seven required medical treatment.

The 1,332 MW Ingula project is located 350 m underground. The station is planned to consist of two dams – one at the top and the other at the bottom of the escarpment – as well as underground waterways, an underground powerhouse complex, access tunnels and access roads.

The company said the incident occurred between 8:15am and 9am on 1 November in a high pressure shaft on the construction site.

A top gantry platform, which was on wheels, is said to have started moving down the incline, then to have hit a monorail and two other gantries which struck the workers on the way down.

Eskom added that the tunnel did not collapse. It said the site’s underground works had been evacuated, and the rest of the site had been cleared of any workers while investigations were underway.

A senior team of internal and external experts has been assigned to investigate the incident, and the company said it had escalated a safety campaign it instituted earlier this year.

Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi said, “I would like to express our sincere condolences to the families and wish the seven surviving workers a speedy recovery. With thousands of workers on our power-plant construction sites at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula, this incident clearly requires a renewed focus on safety so that we do not only bring new generating capacity online for the country, but that we do so safely.”

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