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Dangers of Lubrication Leaks in the Power Generation Industry

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

On August 23rd, 2020, a lubricant leak at the Martins Creek Power Plant in Lower Mount Bethel Township, Pennsylvania caused an extremely large and damaging fire. The flames erupted at around 9pm at the very top of a 13-story turbine facility, and took over 10 different firefighting companies from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania to extinguish the flames.

The lubrication leak occurred around 8pm, and combined with incredibly hot machinery of around 1800 degrees, sparked a fire that spread to the top of the facility, 125 feet in the air. The height of the facility was estimated to be an issue for the maintenance of the machinery before the incident, and for the firefighters battling the blaze as well.

This is not the only incident that has befallen the Martins Creek Power Plant. In 2016 it suffered another fire due to a transformer failure outside of the facility. The transformer was owned and operated by Talen Energy, and although the damages ensued caused a small explosion, no one was hurt.

Leaking lubrication in Power Generation facilities is an incredibly dangerous and costly, albeit common, issue within the industry. Given the nature of the power generation industry, even the slightest contact between the lubrication fluid (typically a flammable oil based substance) and burning hot machinery can cause catastrophic flames. The losses extend beyond just the damaged machinery, as downtimes and installations fees can be extremely costly.

In order to combat these detrimental leaks and disasters, power generation companies should consider investing in predictive maintenance technologies before any ancillary damages can occur. Ultrasound technologies, including ultrasound lubrication monitoring and acoustic ultrasound condition based monitoring, can help to detect potential failures before fire hazards or shutdowns occur.

Ultrasound listening devices like CTRL’s UL101 Leak Detector can be used to monitor all facets of machinery, from detachable joints like flange couplings and threads, to permanent welded seams. Likewise, the UL101 Leak Detector can be operated from over 300 feet away when combined with the PowerBeam 300 Parabolic Accessory. This allows large scale facilities like the Martins Creek Power Plant to effectively monitor its equipment to prevent catastrophic failure. To see if Ultrasound Technology for leak detection is right for you, contact one of our ultrasound experts today!

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