Explosion rocks UA power plant

By Laura Ingalls

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A contained explosion damaged $20,000 in electrical components Thursday at the Arizona Health Sciences Center power plant.

There were no injuries or hazardous conditions from the accident, said Herb Wagner, the university's occupational safety officer.

The "high-voltage flashover" in a switchgear cubicle melted conductive copper bars and layered machinery in carbon deposits, said John Lane, a University of Arizona electrical engineer. The switchgear distributes power to areas in the power plant, which provides power to the University Medical Center.

UMC experienced a short blackout but was restored with backup power.

A similar explosion occurred about a week before last week's and was caused by a flaw in the plant's switchgear, Lane said. Thursday's flashover was probably a combination of the damaged components and a faulty Tucson Electric Power line that fed into the cubicle, said Jay Gonzales, public affairs manager at TEP.

On Monday, the switchgear was restarted but blew out again, Wagner said. The center and service area are still using backup power sources until the damaged machinery can be replaced, he said.

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