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Bunker lashing and cleaning services undertaken at Matimba
29 September 2017
Bunker lashing and cleaning services undertaken at Matimba

Skyriders Access Specialists (Pty) Ltd. has provided specialised confined space access and rescue-service standby to a bunker lashing and cleaning company at Matimba Power Station near Lephalale in Limpopo for electricity utility Eskom as part of its ongoing preventative maintenance programme.

Matimba is the largest direct dry cooling power station in the world. Supplied by the nearby Grootegeluk opencast mine, the coal-fired power station has six 655 MW units, with a total installed capacity of 3 990 MW.

Skyriders Marketing Manager Mike Zinn reveals that the rope-access specialist has been involved with a range of projects at Matimba since 2003, from Non-Destructive Testing and inspection, welding repairs, and coal-silo maintenance to control bin inspection, providing standby rescue on coal bunkers, and stormwater downpipe sealing.

The latest project encompassed providing confined space access and standby rescue services, while internal lashing of boiler coal bunkers was carried out. Although the cleaning scope is considered relatively routine, the fact that it is taking place in a confined space complicates the work by adding coal dust and methane, which can pose a significant health and safety risk.

About four days is required for the lashing and cleaning out of each bunker, with the overall maintenance project taking about 20 days, minimising the critical window that the power station is unable to feed electricity into the national grid.

Skyriders has gained considerable experience in the power generation industry, which has stood it in good stead in securing similar work outside South Africa. Recent international projects in this regard include internal inspection of a 215-m-high smokestack at Unit 5 of Paiton power station in Indonesia.

Skyriders’ services to the power-generation industry include internal boiler inspections, PF pipe inspections, coal bunkers, terrace bins, precipitator hoppers and ducting. It also has the capability to carry out maintenance work on roofs and side sheeting, bucket elevators, and smoke stacks.

In addition to a permanent crew at Matimba itself, Skyriders also has a large multi-skilled team available to carry out other essential maintenance and inspection tasks during any planned or unforeseen outages at Eskom’s fleet. “What gives us our competitive edge is our extreme flexibility and responsiveness in this regard,” Zinn concludes.

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