Blown Away

Lynsey Kitching

 

“It was insane,” says Tim Caldwell.

On Thurs. Nov. 14 at about four p.m. Anglo’s Peace River Coal mine lost contact with its weather station, and the anemometer (to measure wind speed) flew off the station.

Caldwell, PRC’s environmental supervisor says, “We had a very strong wind event that appears to have reached record high levels for the site. The winds eventually knocked out our weather station with a final reading of gusts at 120 kph before our anemometer blew off. From the data trends I estimate the winds likely reached 140 to 150 kph.”

Other damages to the site include the destruction of a mine rescue building as well as the wind fence, designed to protect the raw and clean coal piles. “It took the steel poles and twisted them around,” says Caldwell.

High winds are not unusual at PRC, and are usually at their peak during the fall and spring, says Caldwell, during changes in seasons. “These events pose a number of challenges related to air quality, safety of personnel and damage to equipment such as doors (wind can catch a door and may have enough force to bend it towards the front of the truck),” explains Caldwell.

He explains that during this severe event safety of personnel and equipment was paramount and pit operations were shut down.

Estimates on the cost of the damages from this event have not yet been completed but will likely number in the hundreds of thousands and clean up and repairs are currently ongoing.