EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


July 25, 2008

Power plant safety valve wakes Haverhill neighbors

HAVERHILL — If you live or work in the Ward Hill area you may have heard a loud whistling sound early Tuesday morning.

Officials at Covanta, a trash to energy facility at the edge of the Ward Hill Business Park, said the piercing sound was caused by a steam safety valve that sensed a disturbance in the building's electric power system and channeled steam to the roof, instead of to a power turbine.

Ken Nydam, business manager for Covanta, said the problem started with a driver whose car hit a utility pole on the Ward Hill Connector around 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

He said that utility pole carries high voltage power lines that transfer electricity generated by Covanta to a electrical substation in Bradford. When the car hit the pole it knocked Covanta's system that transfers that electricity off line for about 15 hours.

"It sounded like a very loud whistle, for a short duration of time, until proper operations could be restored," Nydam said. "The valves helped save the plant, but they did create a lot of noise, which some folks in the area reported to the mayor's office."

Nydam said National Grid spent 15 hours repairing the power lines that were damaged, and that during that time his plant's entire phone system was out of order. He said the loss of 15 work hours cost his company around $100,000.

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