Hydro Electic Power Plant Explosion

Explosion at Russian hydroelectric power station

Russian “Sayano-Shushenskoe” (yep it’s hard to read name) hydro electric power plant is the biggest hydro power plant in Russia, and the biggest (in terms of production) electric generating unit in Russia. It’s power output exceeds 6400 Megawatts and is in the Guinness records book.

Now, today messages started arriving about a huge explosion on the site. Later, those were confirmed by some official media though according to the witnesses they underestimate the damage. Here we have the fresh shots from the territory surrounded by emergency services. They tell that eleven people died and fifty-six are missing.

The signs of panic appeared among locals from the surrounding villages and towns. They fear that in case of further damage the dam could let the water freely go thus meaning that thousand of houses would be flooded.

Russian Electic Hydro Power Plant Explosion 2

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Locals went to the nearest hills trying while waiting for further news, waiting for some doom on the hilltops with a pleasant view overlooking their houses.

Russian Electic Hydro Power Plant Explosion 12

Russian Electic Hydro Power Plant Explosion 13

And the video:

And that’s how it looked like before:

Russian Electic Hydro Power Plant Explosion 12

Russian Electic Hydro Power Plant Explosion 13

And a link to Google Maps to see how big the station really is

some images via nakaba

52 thoughts on “Hydro Electic Power Plant Explosion”

  1. There he is already !!!!!! Like a nocturnal animal !! You are disaster too, o my false brother. Living proof of how bad food and poor prospekts can destroy the brain functionality

  2. i don’t understand what is happening to Russia. i heard a lot of bad news about this country like aircrashes, bomb attacks, killigs, explosion, and a lot of others. it seems like the bad things are coming back to this country like it used to face in 90s.

    May i ask the god to help this country to be safe and out of troublesome!

  3. IMO, the only big thing that can explode in a hydroelectric power plant is a power transformer. They contain some tons of insulating mineral oil, if gets overheated can create a huge fireball. But I don’t see any signs of fire in these photos,these oils create horrible clouds of black smoke, so i don’t think it’s that.

    In hydroelectric plants, generators run at slow speed, maybe 500 or 1000rpm so even if they get off-axis, they won’t create such disaster. Even in such case, they are very bulky constructions to “explode”. On the other hand, in thermo-electric stations, they go up to 3000rpm (3600rpm in USA).

    I have a clue that it may be hydrogen explosion. All power stations keep a big array of batteries so in case of total power failure they can restart (pretty much as a car needs a battery and a starter to turn on). During charging, these batteries produce a lot of hydrogen and if there is not enough ventilation, a careless guy with a cigarette or just a spark can make a really powerful boom!

    • Hydrogen is also used as cooling means for generators because it is as effective cooler as water but doesn’t conduct electricity and doesn’t oxidize metals. But it’s very explosive. In student times, we had a introductory visit to a power plant, they were always telling us that smoking near generators is strictly prohibited because of hydrogen explosion risk.

  4. Everything is big in Russia, even disasters 80

    Anyway, the news were that (one of) the turbine houses(s) was flooded, so it must’ve been something related to them.

  5. They were servicing one of the oil filled transformers when it blew up in the turbine hall causing the roof of the hall to collapse and flood(BBC).

    Apparently it will take years to fix. Not surprisingly, they keep the stuff that might blow up away from the dam wall.

    There is no chance of it collapsing according to the Russian “Minister for Emergency Situations”.

    • As I wrote before i had some doubts if it was transformer explosion. If you watch carefully, transformers are in fact between main hall and dam wall. Generators are under the level of main hall. If transformer exploded, main hall might be destroyed but generators would remain intact. And nowhere signs of transformer fire. But it looks to me that blast wave came from inside the hall, one turbine looks completely destroyed, in 3rd photo, brown metal part among debris is definitely a part of generator stator.

      Russia must have a real power shortage problem if this plant is shut down, 6.4GW is enormous power! After Chernobyl accident happened in 1986, the Soviets kept 4 remaining reactors running despite radiation and health dangers because Chernobyl was producing 4GW and there was no other way to cover that demand from other plants. So what are they going to do now?

  6. COOL!!!!!!!!!!!

    Another STALKER game in the Making!!!!!!!!

    Now the Ukrainian Game Companies can profit of yet another

    (they given tours yet?)

  7. This was a catostrophic overspeed of the water turbine. They or someone authorized a overspeed test of the water turbine, and they circumvented the safety features of the turbine to attain an over speed. The problem is the safety was exceeded and the turbine got more than it could handle and you can see for yourself. Tons of turbine wheen penetrating the shell followed by million of gallons of uncontrolled water following the hole left by the existed water turbine.
    Goes to show what can happen when you don’t plan better on testing of equipment, and shave responsibility off of the operators. Management probably forced the operators to circumvent the control switches and other features to protect the equipment and you can see the end result.

    • This accident is very sad, those poor people and there families. May the Good Lord have mercy on all those involved.

      Do you know for sure that it was an over speed test? Do you suppose they were checking the bearings for wear or maybe to see if the rotor was still in proper balance? Is it possible they wanted to find out if they could push the limits of the generator to a higher output. I cant see how you could do such a test without accepting the fact the rotor could or would
      fly apart. Either way what would be the point in such a test.?
      It would be interesting to read a comment from an engineer, if you are not one yourself.

    • It’s completely useless to over-speed generators as they always run at constant and precisely controlled speed in order to be synchronized with electricity network. When generators are connected with network, they keep synchronized but if for some reason they get disconnected, they will start revving up and it’s a matter of safety devices to turn off turbine power (water flow in our case) and keep speed under control. It’s similar to shifting to neutral gear in car while driving in full throttle, engine will rev up in just 1 second, if you are not quick enough to release gas pedal!
      So if over-speed was the cause, i may guess that they were testing disconnection under full load or it happened accidentally and safety devices didn’t act as they should. I’ve also read another possible cause about water over-pressure which i don’t know what is and how it happened. Whatever the cause, doesn’t change the fact that lives were lost…

      P.S.1: I’m electrical engineer
      P.S.2: Sorry for these long technical analysis, it’s over, I promise! You may continue trolling about drunk russians!

  8. Based oon published comments and the photos, my guess:
    1. working on transformer or electrical gear. some mistake caused the transformer or controls to trip offline and possibly causing a short or very high currents( thus the explosion).
    2. this causes the turbine to overspeed, since the load is removed.
    3. something failed or was “not in Service” in the turbine controls. these controls should have automatically and slowly shut off the water flow.
    4. the water flow was stopped suddenly causing a water hammer surge.
    5. this caused the piping or turbine body failure, releasing the full force of the reservoir pressure. creating the damage to the generator and structure
    6. this flooded the building, blowing out the walls, roof, etc.
    there was a large oil release traveling down river, based on the reports. This would be bearing oil and possibly transformer oil.
    Flow of water most likely was stopped by closing the gate on the upstream face of the dam.

  9. Thank you English-Russia for everything !

    I do suspect also something connected with hydrogen.

    BUT look at that mess ! Look on Wikipedia for the history of other failures in that plant. Put it together with all the details about the Chernobyl catastrophe (anyone knows anything about the Kyshtym disaster ?) and you will have only one conclusion: STALIN is alive ! Old russian habits regarding WHO must lead (in full resposability) are still working. The giant with clay feet ! Nothing new.

  10. I’d like to make this story just a bit more clear.

    “… after the forceful shock (of undetermined cause) the 2th (of 10) hydro-aggregate(turbine) was destructed as well as, partly, the machinery hall. 7th and 9th hydro-aggregates are also seriously damaged. The machinery hall was fully sunken.
    75 people died in this catastrophe, 14 saved.”

    “The causes of the accident on the Sayano-Shyshenskaya hidroelectrical plant were defects
    of projecting and violations in exploitation as well as protection systems failure – said
    the headman of RosThekhNadzor (Russian technical supervision).”

    This is official part. Unofficial will come later.. maybe..
    The main versions of the cause of the 2nd turbine destruction were:
    – hydro shock on a stopped turbine (now denied)
    – working turbine destruction as a result of unacceptable vibration started (or other causes).

    Also here’s an interesting link to the RusHydro company site news.
    march 23, 2009.
    “Hydro-turbine №2 of the Sayano-Shyshenskaya hidroelectrical plant is operating again.
    After the repair, which lasted 2 months, the №2 turbine engaged in exploitation.
    The specifics of this repair was that, except the replacement of the thechnology automatics devices,
    also the column of electrohidraulic rotation speed regulator was replaced for the 1st time on…
    12 march, according the special complex program, there started the test of the new control system …
    which finished successfully…”

  11. TerraHertz:
    Here are the plant’s specs

    here’s the video of the 1st minutes after the turbine destruction. The only explosions there are flashes at other turbine
    and then strong clap some time after that.

  12. Just a little clarification.
    There wasn’t any overspeed tests of course, this would be just a suicide. But the blown up turbine was “problematic”
    which was well known by engineers and other people working there as well as the higher management. It was engaged as a result of urgent need of power regulation(this story is unclear though). Engineers ever knew all and did all they had to, but did business oligarchs care?

  13. well, not really its finest, but about the norm it appears. forced to make too many sacrifices to get the job done, but at great cost in the long run. that turbine should have been replaced many years earlier and this would not have happened.

  14. final report on accident:

    In summary, it states that the accident was primarily caused by vibrations of turbine № 2 which led to fatigue damage of the mountings of the turbine, including its cover. The report found that at the moment of the accident, the nuts on at least 6 bolts keeping the turbine cover in place were absent. After the accident, 49 found bolts were investigated: 41 had fatigue cracks. On 8 bolts, the fatigue-damaged area exceeded 90% of the total cross-sectional area.

    On the day of the accident, turbine № 2 worked as the plant’s power output regulator. At 8:12 the turbine № 2 output power was reduced by an automatic turbine regulator, and it entered into a powerband unrecommended for the head pressure that day. Shortly afterwards the bolts keeping the turbine № 2 cover in place were broken. Under water pressure (about 20 atmospheres) the spinning turbine with its cover, rotor and upper parts jumped out of the casing, destroying the machinery hall equipment and building.

    Pressurised water immediately flooded the rooms and continued damage to the plant. At the same time, an alarm was received at the power station’s main control panel, and the power output fell to zero, resulting in a local blackout. But it took 25 minutes to manually close the water gates to the other turbines; during that time they continued to spin — without load.

  15. This blog describes how a hydro power plant is functioning and the main components of a hydro power plants.You will be able to have a overall idea on Hydro Power.


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