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.
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
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.
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.