At 7 a.m. Sunday, residents of Gloucester, Mass., awoke to find a curious sight: A three-bladed wind-turbine, some 500 feet tall, had overnight become two-bladed.
The Gloucester Fire Department issued a news release later that afternoon explaining the sudden dismemberment of the electrical turbine. They reported that one of the three blades had fallen off of the turbine during the night due to a “mechanical failure.” They responded to the call that morning and roads near the structure were closed.
Blackburn industrial park closed after intershell taking right. Fire dept on scene, Gloucester police on scene, here’s a snaps I took of crashing turbine blade early am. #Gloucester ma #windturbine #turbineblade pic.twitter.com/9ReKvD7PKk
— NEMASSWeatherAlerts (@PeterLovasco) July 31, 2022
A statement released by Applied Materials, which owns and operates the turbine, said, “Overnight a blade detached from the wind turbine located on the Applied Materials site. The onboard controls immediately responded and placed the turbine in a safe mode. There were no injuries and little damage on the ground,” according to Boston.com.
“The remaining components of the turbine, including the tower and remaining blades, are intact and secure, and will undergo a complete inspection by the turbine maintenance vendor.”
— Frank Haggerty (@BillCarson2162) July 31, 2022
The severed blade of the turbine was located directly beneath the tower in two pieces.
According to The Washington Times, “A spokesperson for the company told National Wind Watch, a nonprofit that highlights the shortcomings of wind power, that a ‘root-cause analysis is underway and will take some time to complete.’”
This latest high-profile failure of a wind turbine comes barely a week after a turbine in Crowell, Texas, was dramatically struck by lightning and burst into flames with the blades still spinning, creating spiraling smoke and flames.
This is near Cromwell, OK. Brent Havins shot this video of a wind turbine that got struck by lightning. pic.twitter.com/jBjUNas0yc
— Mike Collier (@MikeCollierWX) July 22, 2022
Wind power has come under increased scrutiny since the February 2021 blizzard that struck Texas and disabled a large portion of the power grid, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman and The Western Journal. The 2021 winter outage impacted over four million people, according to The Associated Press.
More recently, in April of this year, ESI Energy LLC pleaded guilty to violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which resulted in the deaths of 150 protected bald eagles and golden eagles across the country since 2012.
The company was sentenced to pay $1.86 million in fines and another $6.21 million in restitution. ESI also agreed to pay up to an additional $27 million for an eagle management plan at its wind-power generation facilities to prevent further incidents.
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Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, was highly critical of ESI for their prior refusal to work with the FWS.
“This agreement holds ESI and its affiliates accountable for years of unwillingness to work cooperatively with the Service and their blatant disregard of wildlife laws, and finally marks a path forward for the benefit of eagles and other wildlife resources entrusted to the Service’s stewardship,” he said.