1 p.m. UPDATE: Blade falls off wind turbine in Gloucester

·2 min read

Jul. 31—A 160-foot blade fell off the wind turbine located on the Great Republic Drive property of Applied Materials/Varian Semiconductor Associates on Saturday night.

"There were no reported injuries, and no structural damage aside from the damage sustained in the turbine failure itself," according to statement from Mayor Greg Verga and fire Chief Eric Smith.

Great Republic Drive is closed in the area of the turbine, and will remain so indefinitely, Smith and Verga said. The Gloucester Police and Fire department are working together to provide access to businesses on Great Republic Drive via a gated access driveway on Pond Road. The Happy Valley marijuana dispensary said Blackburn Drive also was closed Sunday morning because of the fallen blade, and was instructing customers trying to reach the store at 28 Great Republic Road to use Pond Road.

Verga said police and the Fire Department are on scene working with Applied Materials to establish an appropriate isolation area around the turbine, determine current hazards and concerns, and ensure the safety of the turbine and the area.

Also on scene is Baldwin Crane, the Wilmington-based company that handled the offloading of the turbine's parts from barges, their transportation to the Varian site, and the construction of the turbine in 2012.

The turbine at the Varian campus was built at a cost of about $8 million, and went online in December 2012, the first of three installed at Blackburn Industrial Park, and also the tallest — 492 feet when measured from its base to the top of a fully outstretched blade — in the Northeast at the time. The other two turbines in the industrial park are operated by the city of Gloucester and its partners, and have been spinning since 2013.

Applied Materials removed the blades from the turbine to make repairs before reattaching them at the end of 2018. At the time, the company said the turbine had saved it up to $1 million in annual energy costs since being installed, and was producing about 30% of the electricity for the company's Gloucester campus while while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 34%.

The city's turbines also have been subject to a series of maintenance and repair projects, shut down to fix hydraulic leaks, and a blown circuit board. The city reeled in $203,474.99 in credits and revenues from the two turbines in fiscal 2018.

This is a developing story, and will be updated here at gloucestertimes.com.