….. as works on the affected area are suspended

By Bennie Mundando

GOVERNMENT says the fire accident which happened last Friday at the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower plant which is under construction has been reported to regulatory and investigative wings and that investigations are underway.

A flash-fire accident broke out at the construction site at around 11:30 hours with preliminary investigations have revealing that the fire started after three employees were assigned to cut protruding tie rods bars that were used to hold formwork on the upstream face of the Roller Comparted Concrete (RCC) dam wall.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Energy, as the workers who were in a motorized cage were cutting a tie rod mid-way on the dam surface, fire from the cutting torch caught on to nylon rope that was next to the motorized elevated working platform.

The ministry says the burning rope fell to the foot of the dam on a pile of remnants of polyuria – a waterproof coating that has been applied on the lower section of the upstream face of the dam wall concrete.

It says the polyuria material ignited resulting in approximately one third of the coated surface of the dam wall catching fire and that the polyuria flame spread upwards very quickly from the foot of the dam and caught the elevated working platform causing the three workers to suffer burns.

“The flash-fire incident is not expected to have any impact on the construction milestones of the project other than time required to clean the affected portion of the dam. The heat intensity of the fire was very low as the material that burnt was a very thin coating layer with a rapid burning rate and therefore has not affected the concrete structure in any way.

“The accident was reported to regulatory and investigative wings and their reports are still being awaited,” reads the statement in part.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security says it has suspended works on the affected area until measures to ascertain that works can continue to be undertaken safely are taken.

Permanent Secretary Chanda Kaziya has urged Sino Hydro, the company working on the project, to cooperate with investigative wings to ensure that investigations are conducted smoothly and within the quickest possible time.

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