Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Driver hits NIPSCO pole; surge fries sewage treatment plant

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By KEVIN NEVERS

When a motorist, at approximately 12:11 a.m. on Sunday, struck a NIPSCO pole on Woodlawn Ave. just west of North Eighth Street, he not only interrupted electric service to the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant, he caused a power surge which zapped into oblivion the whole of the plant’s automated computer system.

Since early Sunday morning, Superintendent Steve Yagelski told the Town Council at its meeting Monday night, operators have been working the plant by hand, after the computer system known as SCADA—tasked with running the facility automatically—was fried and failed.

Yagelski hastened to add that no by-pass occurred, thanks to the fact that a backup alarm system not connected to SCADA activated and alerted staffers.

One backup system which did not work, however, was the emergency power supposed to be provided by two generators. Yagelski told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that the surge was so powerful and comprehensive that SCADA failed before it could send the activation message to that pair of generators.

A NIPSCO crew subsequently got those emergency generators running and then restored electric service to the plant as a whole. Now Yagelski is performing triage, trying to assess the damage done to the most critical components of the facility. “This is an unusual thing,” he said. “We lost the entire plant. Virtually every breaker in the facilty was blown and had to be re-set.”

Yagelski expects the cost of replacing damaged computers and electronics to be considerable. “I have no idea at this point what it will cost,” he said. “But I’m sure we’re in the thousands of dollars.”

Yagelski added that he is “hopeful” that insurance—the plant’s or the motorist’s—will reimburse at least part of the expense.

Until systems can be restored, though, operators will continue to “walk the plant around the clock” to keep it in operation.

Insurance Payment

In other business, members voted 5-0 to appropriate an insurance payment of $1,130 to Motor Vehicle Highway, to reimburse the cost of repairing a guard rail located north of St. Patrick Catholic Church on North Calumet Road damaged recently in a traffic accident.

From the CPD

So far in October the Chesterton Police Department has responded to 999 calls and in the year-to-date to 11,362 calls, Police Chief George Nelson advised the council.

From the CFD

So far in October the Chesterton Fire Dpeatment has responded to 68 calls and in the year-to-date to 958 calls, Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood advised the council.

Tag Day

Members voted 5-0 to authorize DEW 14u—a girls’ fast-pitch traveling softball team—to hold a tag-day fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at a location on public right-of-way to be determined in consultation with Nelson.

 

 

Posted 10/28/2008

 

 

 

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