Deadly Explosion Reported at Hydroelectric Power Plant

Deadly Explosion Reported at Hydroelectric Power Plant

(—Hydroelectric power plants use the energy of running water to produce electricity. As of 2017, they provided 16% of the world’s power, while it’s been reported that they provide 71% of all the renewable electricity on Earth. However, like other power plants, they have certain dangers associated with them. In Italy, a recent explosion killed at least five, with two others missing as of April 11.

The blast occurred in Bologna, Italy, at the partially submerged Bargi power plant, a nine-story structure, on Lake Suviana. An aerial video taken and posted on social media showed some of the damage in the aftermath.

Some of the workers were testing efficiency improvements when the explosion occurred in an underwater area of the plant. It’s unclear what caused the blast, though a team was working on the turbines at the time. According to Regional Fire Chief Francesco Notaro, part of the underground structure collapsed, sparking a fire and flooding, further complicating rescue efforts.

Specialized rescue teams, including topographers and cave experts, immediately started working to locate the workers, but the conditions proved precarious. According to a firefighter’s spokesman, Luca Cari, the divers had “zero visibility,” and debris and rubble surrounded them. They had to move sheet metal and other materials by hand, a challenging task to accomplish under ideal conditions underwater, much less in the murky, congested waters post-explosion.

The blast injured at least five, and first responders transported them to the hospital, including two with serious injuries. The death toll could rise in the coming days.

Bologna prosecutors are investigating what might have caused the explosion. In a statement, the company that owns the plant, Enel Green Power, said it “would continue to fully collaborate […] to ascertain the facts.” Trade workers are demanding change and criticizing the company for its “lack of transparency” in the accident.

Structural engineers determined that the dam didn’t suffer any damage during the explosion.

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