Bengaluru, Oct 2 (IANS) A “minor” explosion was reported at a 370 MW gas power plant of the state-run Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd in Bengaluru early on Friday, leaving 15 persons injured, including two critically, an official said.
Speaking to IANS, Karnataka state Fire and Emergency Services Director K. Shiva Kumar said that the blast occurred in the KPCL’s Combined Cycle Power Plant in Yelahanka at around 3 a.m. on Friday while engineers were carrying out tests in a gas turbine chamber.
“The plant was supposed to commence its operations in December. All day, they had tested. But when they were testing, variations in pressure were observed. This incident occurred when KPCL engineers were conducting several checks to test the turbine,” he explained.
According to him, soon after the incident took place, the KPCL had already stationed two fire tenders, and also sought the help of the Rail Wheel Factory, which has a foam tender there.
Before the fire services reached the spot, they were taking precautionary steps to extinguish fire, he added.
District Fire officer, Kishore, told IANS that they received a call from the plant at 3.30 a.m., and fire fighters rushed to the spot.
“Four fire tenders, two water pumps and two one foam tender were rushed to the spot, along with senior officials, including the Director. The Rail Wheel Factory had immediately rushed one foam tender from its side, but we did not use it,” he said.
Kishore said that the department used foam tender to extinguish fire. “This was a medium range fire incident… had it not been controlled in time, it had the potential to cause a major loss,” he said.
He added that the primary reason was an electric short circuit that resulted in the minor explosion where oil was stored.
A highly-placed source, who was present at the scene, said that there was a snag in the functioning of the turbine due to high pressure, which resulted in the heat blast.
“The chamber is fully automatic. Chances of a fire accident are minimal in this chamber. The turbine functions on three important materials – natural gas that is used to heat and convert water into steam. Thus converted steam helps to rotate turbines to produce electricity. Lastly, oil pumps used as coolant as turbines produce high temperature heat.
“During one of such experiments, due to high pressure, the oil supply pipe opened up and due to heat and presence of natural gas, it produced highly combustible heat flame which caused the blast, injuring 15 engineers who were working there,” the source explained.
The source further added that though the entire chamber is automatic, there is need to know how it has failed.
“The entire turbine chamber is automatic. And it is self-efficient to extinguish any fire on its own, as the moment, fire and heat sensors send signals, CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas is pumped automatically to put out the fire,” he said.
Local residents said that they heard a loud blast-like sound and saw fire tenders and several ambulances lining up in front of their flats, creating panic.