While undertaking boiler NDT works at Wallerawang power station recently, the New South Wales team was asked to provide some alternatives to an issue that could potentially cost it client thousands to resolve.
Inside the plant's parabolic cooling tower was the main water duct which met a water riser some 25 metres deep at one end. Alongside the top of the riser were 12 pipes in need of repair. Prior to AIRA's involvement, the power station had been told access could only be achieved by either completely emptying the bottom of the cooling tower and building a tower up the inside of the riser or by placing a vast amount of scaffolding inside the duct and construct a counterlevered scaffold all the way over the seven metre void.
Despite access being restricted to only three metre lengths - and the time pressure of getting the cooling tower back on line, AIRA delivered a suitable alternative. First a light weight bridge was installed using mechanical advantage techniques as was a fall arrest system, incorporating appropriate rescue facilities, thus allowing technicians to cross safely. On the far side of the structure a permanent rope access system was installed to allow safe passage back and forth with limited fall tolerances built in. All pipes where removed, replaced and made good before the reversal of the installtion was undertaken. What initially looked to be a 6 day shut down costing a vast sum of money, was turned around in 2 by the AIRA team, costing less than 1/5th of the original estimate.
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