A Saugus facility that generates electricity by burning trash automatically stopped making power Monday night when a raccoon met its end by climbing onto some high-voltage equipment.
The plant continued to burn trash - the ashes from which are dumped nearby - but the steam generated by the process was vented into the air, rather than used to power generators, according to a memo from the Wheelabrator plant:
At approximately 11:20 pm on 5/7/18 the Wheelabrator Saugus facility was electrically tripped offline as a result of a raccoon climbing onto equipment in the high voltage electrical switchyard. Both units were immediately taken offline to mitigate, as quickly as possible any noise issues.
The system trip happened automatically as part of the equipment protection system causing emergency steam release vents to open to safely take steam pressure off the boilers. There was no damage as a result of the trip, and facility was able restore power to the system. Facility management made the decision to delay startup of the facility until daylight hours to eliminate any potential inconvenience.
During the startup period the steam being generated was vented to atmosphere until the turbine generator is brought back online. At that point the facility returned to normal service.
In response to the incident on 4/24/18 the facility engaged our vector control service to increase bait traps near the switchyard in an attempt to capture small animals. The facility also engaged the SPCA to assist with any captured animals. Further preventive measures are being evaluated and will be implemented as appropriate.