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Update: “Major incident” claims life at Eskom power station

Eskom has confirmed that the “major incident” at Eskom’s Lethabo Power Station in the Free State yesterday afternoon has claimed the life of one employee with serious injuries caused to another. 

According to the power utility, at 15:23 on Wednesday, the live steam pressure from the boiler of Unit 5 of the Lethabo Power Station ruptured, sending a plume of dust into the air.

As a result, one of Eskom’s employees lost his life on site, and the other colleague was rushed to the local hospital.

The Group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe said: “On behalf of the Eskom Board, executive management and all the Eskom employees, we would like to send our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and also wish the colleague who is in hospital a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and immediate colleagues of the two affected employees during this difficult period.”

Eskom management have visited the power station since last night, and a thorough investigation had been initiated as per regulatory requirements.

A work stoppage has been initiated in which the Power Station Manager, CEO of Eskom Rotek Industries and the Group CEO addressed all the staff.

An Employee Assistance Programme has been arranged to assist all employees with counseling. Counseling has also been arranged for family members of the two directly affected employees.

“Based on the preliminary investigation, it is expected that Unit 5 will remain out of service for a minimum of three months. The loss of Unit 5 will have a negative effect on the power system given that Lethabo Power Station is one of the most cost-effective generators with adequate access to a steady coal supply. All efforts will be focused on the safe and swift return of this unit to the national grid,” said Hadebe.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.