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Airport vehicle plunges St Helena into darkness (statement added)

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Yellow vehicle with catarpillar tracks
Everything’s gone dark: Basil Read’s excavator

Power across most of St Helena was knocked out after an airport construction vehicle apparently brought down a power cable while being moved to Prosperous Bay Plain on Monday evening (3 September).

A bright flash on Deadwood Plain was reported to be visible across the valley at Gordon’s Post.

Power supplies were down across most of the island, including Longwood, Levelwood, Sandy Bay, Alarm Forest, Thompson’s Wood and Blue Hill, from around 7pm to 9.30pm.

An out-of-hours contractor was on the scene quickly but bad weather meant it was not possible to reconnect the cable. Electricity was restored to most of the affected areas by re-routing the supply, but Deadwood remained without power through the night.

The circumstances were being investigated.

Deon de Jager, Basil Read’s island director, issued a statement on 5 September. He said:  

Members of the public will be aware of the plans to take the heavy plant from Ruperts through the access track to Prosperous Bay Plain. All of the relevant health and safety arrangements were in place, for example, banksmen were required to walk the plant through the access track.

“Whilst we at Basil Read pride ourselves on our safety record and achievements, unfortunately accidents do happen.

“The pieces of plant, including the excavator, had reached the top of Pipe Ridge at around dusk. In an effort to contribute to project progress, it was decided to take the excavator a stage further to reach Fox’s Garage.

“At approximately 6.45pm, the excavator accidentally hit a power cable, causing the electricity pole to break off at the base. This caused the power supply to be interrupted, with power only being restored to some areas [on Tuesday].
We are currently reviewing our policies and procedures to minimise the risk of any future incidents.

“Basil Read Management would like to thank the Energy Division, their subcontractor and all those involved in restoring the power supply for their efforts. We would also like to once again apologise to all those affected for any inconvenience caused and we thank you for your patience during the power outage.”

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