Investigation of Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP accident complete

MOSCOW, August 12 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has completed investigation actions within the criminal case of an accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant that occurred in August 2009 and killed 75 people.

“The SK main investigation department has completed investigative actions and now the defendants and their lawyers continue familiarisation with the criminal case materials,” KS spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.

Among the defendants in the case are: former director of JSC RusHydro branch – the P. S. Neporozhny Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP Nikholai Nevolko, first deputy director – chief engineer of the station Andrei Mitrofanov, deputy chief engineer for technical maintenance Gennady Nikitenko, deputy chief engineer for operation Yevgeny Shervarli, chief of the equipment monitoring service Alexander Matviyenko, head of the technical diagnostics laboratory Vladimir Beloborodov and chief engineer of the equipment monitoring service section Alexander Klyukach.

“All of them are charged with committing a crime punishable under Article 143 part 3 of the RF Criminal Code – “violation of safety rules resulting in loss of life through negligence,” the SK spokesman said.

According to him, “all the seven defendants and their nine lawyers have expressed the desire to fully familiarise themselves with the criminal case materials, physical evidence, photographs, audio and video recordings and other records of investigative actions.”

“The criminal case materials make 1,148 volumes. Over the past three months the defendants and their lawyers have studied half of the materials, on the average,” Markin said.

He stressed that “no facts of obvious procrastination of the case materials study by the accused and their defenders have been observed.”

“After the familiarisation with all the case materials the investigation will consider appeals of the defendants and their lawyers, if any,” Markin said.

The disaster at Russia’s largest and one of the world’s largest Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP occurred on August 17, 2009. Seven of its 10 power generating units were destroyed or seriously damaged. Seventy-five people were killed in flooded areas of the hydropower plant. Another 85 workers suffered health damage.

The 2009 Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station accident occurred at 00:13 GMT (08:13 AM local time) when turbine 2 of the Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP broke apart violently. The turbine hall and engine room were flooded, the ceiling of the turbine hall collapsed, 9 of 10 turbines were damaged or destroyed, and 75 people were killed. The entire plant output, totalling 6,400 MW and a significant portion of the supply to the local grid, was lost, leading to widespread power failure in the local area, and forcing all major users such as aluminium smelters to switch to diesel generators.

On 4 October 2009 the official report about Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro accident was published by the Federal Environmental, Technological and Atomic Supervisory Service (Rostekhnadzor) on its website. However, later the report and the press release on the report were removed from the website. Names of people killed and those who bear responsibility for the accident, and other data including a historical and technical review about the plant and plans for its future, are given in the report. The report states that the accident was primarily caused by the turbine vibrations which led to the fatigue damage of the mountings of the turbine 2, including the cover of the turbine. It was also found that at the moment of accident at least six nuts were missing from the bolts securing the turbine cover. After the accident 49 found bolts were investigated from which 41 had fatigue cracks. On 8 bolts, the fatigue damaged area exceeded 90 percent of the total cross-sectional area.

According to this report, on 17 August 2009 at 1:20AM (local time) there was a fire at the hydroelectric power station of Bratsk which broke both communications and the automatic driving systems of other power plants in the region, including Sayano-Shushenskaya. The situation was recovered on 17 August 2009 at 15:03. At 8:12AM local time, turbine 2’s output power was reduced by the turbine regulator and it entered into the non-recommended powerband II. Shortly after this, the bolts keeping the turbine cover in place were broken, and under water pressure of about 20 bars (2,000 kPa), the spinning turbine with its cover, rotor, and upper parts started to move up, destroying machinery hall installations. At the same time, pressurized water flooded the rooms and continued damaging plant constructions.

According to Rostekhnadzor, the automatic shutdown system of the water intake pipes’ gates failed after failure of the turbine 2. This accusation was dismissed by Rakurs, the company which designed the automated safety system for the plant.

The Russian government decided to pay compensation of 1 million roubles (US$31,600) to each victim’s family, and 100,000 roubles (about US$3,100) to each survivor, while RusHydro decided to pay a further 1 million roubles in compensation. RusHydro also decided to buy housing for 13 families of killed workers with underage children. There are also programs to support these children in kindergartens and schools and to provide higher education. In addition, a special program for the reconstruction and development of Cheryomushki settlement, the main settlement where the power plant workers live, is planned.

The director of the plant, Nikolai Nevolko, was replaced by Valerii Kyari. Several people were awarded for their heroic actions during the accident. Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, awarded Juri Salnikov and Oleg Melnichuk with an Official Letter of Commendation each.


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