Enemalta thanks workers for immediate response to tunnel incident
Enemalta plc would like to thank its employees, the Civil Protection Department, the Police and other entities for their swift response and support to resolve Wednesday morning’s emergency at one of its electricity distribution tunnels at Kappara.
Electricity supply to several customers in the central part of Malta was disrupted at 1030hrs following a network disturbance. Almost all services were restored within half an hour but a second interruption in the same area was necessary as a precaution to allow the Enemalta engineers and technicians, fire fighters and other workers to safely enter the tunnel connecting the Malta-Italy Interconnector to the national grid and check the infrastructure within. During this emergency procedure, all the high voltage cables within the tunnel, including the Malta-Italy Interconnector, had to be disconnected from the Maltese electricity network.
Supply was restored to all customers, except for a few small areas, including one of the country’s reverse osmosis plants, by 1320hrs. Internal investigations and the necessary repairs are now underway.
In comments to journalists at the incident site, Enemalta Executive Chairman Inġ. Fredrick Azzopardi further explained that soon after the initial network disturbance the Company’s Control Room registered a fire alarm in one of the distribution tunnels. Whilst the Company’s engineers started working on restoring supply through alternative network connections, the Civil Protection Department was contacted to assist in accessing the smoke-filled tunnel through one of its entrances next to the 132 kV Kappara Distribution Centre. A number of high voltage cables, including one of the 132 kV cables linking the Maghtab Interconnector Terminal to the national electricity grid, were damaged by a fire some 600 metres down the tunnel. Enemalta employees were assisted by the Civil Protection Department rescuers to safely access this confined space and inspect the damage.
In the meantime, the Company switched on all its local generation capacity, including the older plants at Delimara and the three emergency open cycle gas turbines located at the Delimara Power Station and the Marsa Power Station site, to make up for the loss of capacity caused by the disconnection of the Interconnector. Through this process, the Company secured the necessary supply to provide for most of the country’s electricity demand. As soon as the Civil Protection Department and the Enemalta engineers confirmed that the infrastructure within the tunnel not affected by the fire was safe to be re-used, Enemalta started reconnecting and synchronising the Maltese grid to the network in Sicily to continue importing electricity through the Interconnector.
Whilst regretting any inconvenience caused, Enemalta plc reiterates its commitment to continue investing in its electricity generation and distribution infrastructure to secure the necessary generation capacity and the electricity network flexibility to reduce the risk of service disruptions to its customers.