GLOUCESTER — Mayor Greg Verga and Fire Chief Eric Smith would like to provide an update on the City of Gloucester’s response to a mechanical failure at a wind turbine in the Blackburn Industrial Park on Sunday morning.
On Sunday, July 31, at approximately 7 a.m., the Gloucester Fire Department responded after it was discovered that one of three blades on a 492-foot wind turbine at Applied Materials on Dory Road fell off of the turbine.
There were no reported injuries, and no structural damage aside from the damage sustained in the turbine failure itself. The Gloucester Fire Department setup an approximately 450-foot collapse zone around the turbine as a precaution, and as a result closed a portion of Great Republic Drive in the Blackburn Industrial Park.
Due to the size of the turbine, the Gloucester Fire Department and the City of Gloucester are working closely with Applied Materials to establish an appropriate isolation area around the turbine, determine current hazards and concerns, and ensure the safety of the turbine and the area.
On Sunday afternoon, Applied Materials, which owns and operates the turbine, informed the city that the cause of the failure remains unknown, but that multiple inspections of the turbine tower and remaining two blades identified no imminent structural concerns.
Once the company provided written notification that the area could safely be reopened, Great Republic Drive was reopened to traffic. An exclusion zone remains in place around the tower, but the entirety of the exclusion zone is on Applied Materials property.
Applied Materials reported that it appears from preliminary inspections that built-in safety mechanisms caused the turbine to shut down when an issue was detected, and that the safety mechanisms functioned as designed to stop the turbine. Applied Materials reported the remaining blades of the turbine have been locked into place, and that the blades are under far less stress than they are when they are operational.
The City of Gloucester has a power purchase agreement with a separate, private company that operates two other wind turbines in the Blackburn Industrial Park, and the city works closely with the owners of those turbines to ensure inspections and maintenance are conducted regularly.