That big bang that rattled Burrillville? Safety valve blamed at gas-fueled power plant

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BURRILLVILLE — The big bang that rattled the neighborhood surrounding the Ocean State Power Plant late Saturday afternoon has been attributed to the automatic activation of a safety valve that temporarily shut down the plant.

Steven Arabia, a spokesman for LS Power, the company that owns the gas-fueled 560 megawatt, electricity producing plant, said a piece of equipment failed at some point before 5 p.m.

"What happens in these cases is, there are safety features that automatically engage to prevent any additional damage to the [plant's] other equipment.

"When that opens up there is a lot of force behind it," he said, and that makes a big bang.

A piece of failed equipment engaged a safety valve at the Ocean State Power Plant in Burrrillville, causing a big bang on Saturday afternoon.
A piece of failed equipment engaged a safety valve at the Ocean State Power Plant in Burrrillville, causing a big bang on Saturday afternoon.

While it is not yet clear what piece of equipment failed, Arabia said one of the two turbines went back online at 2 a.m., and the other one a few hours later.

Late Sunday afternoon, Arabia said, the company still did not know "the root cause" of the problem that triggered the shutdown, but he said the plant, which went online in 1990, passsd after-the-fact safety checks and National Grid gave the okay to "re-energize the power line.".

Arabia said there were no injuries, no emissions and no environmental impacts. The town fire department said it had no information on the incident, but Arabia said the fire department was automatically contacted and showed up.

"I think the reassurance is that there was an equipment failure and safety systems operated as designed and there were no environmental issues and we were able to get the plant back in operation early this morning."

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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Big bang in Burrillville RI from power plant safety valve kicking in