Lube Fingered in Fatal Blast

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A leak of industrial lubricant and air under high pressure in the compressor unit caused a May 12 explosion in Nizhnekamsk hydroelectric power plant, the investigation committee of the Russian prosecutors office told the Kommersant newspaper.

The explosion knocked out the compressor unit and its mounted roof and killed two, including the head of the fire guard of Nabereznye Chelny firefighting department.

The leak lowered the lubricant level in the power stations compressor unit which overheated the suctioned air. That heightened the temperature of the remaining oil, causing fire in the unit and ultimately an explosion, according to the final investigation results, the daily specified.

An emergency brake on the compressors electric motor failed to shut down the engine, while a system that could provide an emergency shutdown was not included in the project, the investigation found.

The power plants compressor unit is an ancillary installation that serves as a plants proprietary air supplier; it is not the plants main equipment, investigators told Kommersant, adding that all operation was conducted by workers in accordance with the operating industrial and duty regulations.

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