Ecuador assesses volcano effects on 230-MW San Francisco

Ecuador’s 230-MW San Francisco hydroelectric project has been taken off line for inspections of the effects of sediments contaminated by eruptions of the Tungurahua volcano.

Electricity regulator Consejo Nacional de Electricidad (Conelec) issued a statement saying project operator Hidropastaza called in construction contractor Norberto Odebrecht to examine the plant due to loose material in the water tunnel and wear of turbine blades due to sediment carrying discharges from the volcano.

Conelec said the loose material in the tunnel could be the result of geological faults, detected previously, that have not gotten worse.

The agency said said Odebrecht has an obligation to repair any damage under terms of its construction contract. San Francisco was inaugurated in June 2007 on the Pastaza River in Ecuador’s central Andean highlands. (HNN 6/22/07)

Company officials held technical meetings to evaluate the situation and determine what actions should be taken. Conelec said despite the project shutdown, there would be no problem meeting Ecuador’s electricity needs.

Odebrecht built the US$302 million project, while Brazilian units of Alstom and VA Tech Hydro supplied turbine-generators. San Francisco uses flow releases from the 156-MW Agoyan hydro plant through a series of tunnels and caverns.

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