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Wind catches blades, crashes turbine

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Published on Feb 21, 2009

By Anelia K. Dimitrova

A 50-ton structure fell 246 to the frozen ground when the blades of a turbine under construction east of Waverly, Iowa, caught wind and started rotating at a speed reaching 60 rpm.

The nacelle, the hub housing the generating components, and the blades collapsed after spinning for hours at the mercy of the wind, says Waverly Light and Power General Manager Diane Johnson.

Prior to the lifting, the blades were not turned in a way that would have prevented them from catching wind. The error was discovered only after the structure had been put in place, according to a press release released by the municipal utility.

It could have spun for days, Johnson says, adding that the problem can happen only during installation.

Crew and neighbors were evacuated overnight until the structure collapsed under its own weight.

No one was injured and the crane below was spared.

The howling wind and subzero temps added to the challenges Saturday afternoon as crews rushed to the scene to examine the damage and secure the vertical structure from caving in.

The accident has put everyone to the test, Johnson says, but the utility plans to forge forward with plans to launch the turbine.

We believe in wind power, we believe in it for the community, we believe in it for [Waverly] Light and Power, we believe in it for Iowa, Johnson says. These are fluke accidents. We wish that it had not happened to us. We will pick up the pieces and we will go on.

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