Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

Yarwun, Australia (Near Gladstone) Edit This location is Incorrect. Worsley, Western Australia is the correct location

A luffing tower crane being used to upgrade a Aluminum refinery that was recently (2004) built suffered a boom collapse. No injuries were reported.

The crane appears to be a Favco. The collapse is just of the boom section. Looking at the picture I can't see any structural failure and the pendants are hanging as if they are still attached. My first inkling is a potential mechanical failure. If the boom brakes are not set properly, and or tested, this is a potential result. Australia has some good crane regulations so I can only assume that they load test all of the cranes and if that was the case, this should have shown up during that test.

800 workers were sent home. The virtual shutting down of the plant is going to be tremendously expensive. A case of that happening here in Washington State where a crane tipped and shut down a steam power plant is rumored to have cost the crane insurer 20 million dollars (the full policy limit). I imagine an aluminum plant is on that scale as well. The removal of the tower crane might take a day or two and I don't imagine that the plant will be operational until that happens. The contractor may be on the hook for all of that down time.

Australia's Mine's Department is investigating. Australia is good about keeping the public informed as to causation to prevent another occurrence so hopefully we'll learn the cause soon enough.