Sheffield Forgemasters aid crippled Russian power plant

Sheffield Forgemasters is to supply major parts to a Russian hydro-electric power plant wrecked by an explosion which killed 75 workers and injured many more.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya station and dam, Russia's biggest hydro-electric power station, in south-central Siberia, provided enough output to power a city of 3.8 million but has not operated since an oil-filled transformer exploded last August

Six of the ten huge turbine units were damaged beyond repair and Sheffield Forgemasters will be supplying hydro shafts for three of the replacement units as reconstruction work gets under way.

The shafts, each weighing more than 100 tonnes, connect the turbine runner to the generator and are so large that Sheffield Forgemasters is one of the few companies in the world capable of manufacturing them as a single forging.

The £1.6 million order has to be completed by late summer and work has already started on the shafts, using the biggest forging ingot the company has available.

Volker Schaffer, sales director of Sheffield Forgemasters, said: "Rebuilding the plant is obviously going to be a massive job but it is such an important producer of energy, particularly as a supplier to the aluminium industry, that the Russian government is keen to have it operational again as quickly as possible.

"Obviously, this lends an element of urgency to the order and we have already started work on the shafts and fully expect to complete them in good time. We are hopeful that we may be asked to provide more shafts as and when work starts on rebuilding the remaining turbine units."

Most of the victims were working in the engine room, which houses the turbine units, when water flooded in after the explosion.

The plant's dam was not damaged but the blast led to a three-mile oil slick spilling into the Yenisei river.

Russia's emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu has described the accident as "the biggest man-made emergency situation in the past 25 years for its scale of destruction, for the scale of losses it entails for our energy industry and our economy."

Volker added: "Another factor which makes the rebuilding urgent is the Siberian weather. The snow will soon be melting and sending huge amounts of water into the dam, which could cause a problem if insufficient turbines are working."