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(QUEENSLAND) JUST IN: An explosion and fire at a power station in central Queensland has caused outages to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the state #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.25: Energy is being restored to homes and businesses across Queensland after a fire at the Callide power station triggered mass electricity outages across the state:

#AceDailyNews says here’s what we know so far: QUEENSLAND: Hit by widespread power outage after fire and explosion at Callide power station: Police & QLD Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) were called to the Callide Power Station at Biloela shortly before 2:00pm according to ABC News

Kindness & LoveX❤️ says …..Be safe Friends, Followers & Readers God Bless Amen 🙏’s

updated 57m ago

High tension power lines on steel towers in a paddock at Oxley Creek Common at Rocklea on Brisbane's southside.
About 400,000 homes and businesses across Queensland lost power as a result of the incident at Callide power station.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Queensland power outage as it happened: Power coming back on for parts of Brisbane, Gold Coast and regional centres after massive outage

updated 32m ago

Look back on how news of the outage unfolded.

Key events

  • 2h ago
  • 2h ago
  • 3h ago

Live updates

Here’s what we know so far:

  • There’s been a fire and explosion at the Callide Power Station near Biloela in central Queensland
  • Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were out of power across Queensland as a result
  • While power has largely been restored Queenslanders have been asked to reduce their energy use tonight
  • The incident happened at about 2:00pm
  • The cause of the explosion is unknown
  • Staff have been evacuatedno injuries have been reported

Have a safe and limited-use-of-electricty evening, Queensland!

Now that power seems to be restored to those who lost it after this afternoon’s power station fire, we’ll wrap up our blog.

Just a friendly reminder we have all been asked to keep our energy use to a minimum this evening.

This will help make the best use of our reduced power supply at the moment … however Powerlink Queensland has warned some of us may experience further power interruptions through the night.

Also, remember to be careful on the roads and especially play it safe around traffic lights!

For regular updates on the situation through the night, be sure to check our main story.

Warning for Queenslanders on the roads tonight

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni thanked Queenslanders for their patience but warned there may experience further outages.

He echoed the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and urged households and businesses to reduce power usage this evening — and stay off the roads where possible.

“Essential services such as hospitals, transport networks, ports, airports and other key infrastructure will stay online.

“If you and your family are in a position to, please consider conserving energy by turning off appliances, heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioning.

“Commercial and industrial users can also contribute to the effort by reducing energy use where it’s safe to do so.

“Importantly, this may affect traffic lights so it is important people stay off roads unless absolutely necessary. If you are on the roads, be careful.”

Union believes power station could be closed up to a year

CFMEU’s Shane Brunker, spoke to Adam Stephens on ABC Capricornia and said to him it looked like “the hydrogen-filled generator or the main turbine has had catastrophic failure which has caused then an explosion and then ultimately the fire”.

“The scenario of a hydrogen-filled generator exploding or failing mechanically causing hydrogen leaks and then also oil leaks, is probably the worst-case scenario in a coal-fired power station,” he said.

“All the safety protocols were enacted straight away and it was a very speedy and efficient evacuation. All the workers have been bused into the community centre in Biloela and everyone has been accounted for.”

The union’s mining and energy division district vice-president based in Emerald said recovery work could take “months, if not a year”.

“That is coming from both people on the ground and at other power stations with many years industry experience.

“I am a workplace health and safety entry permit-holder and I have had 10 years’ experience in the electricity generation industry, so that is where we are getting the information from.”

Police have control of the power station site

Jim Soorley, the chair of CS Energy, has just spoken with ABC Radio Brisbane’s Steve Austin and says the site is now under the control of Queensland police and emergency services.

“They will be doing their activity on-site and hopefully tomorrow our staff will be able to get back on-site and investigate on what happened,” he said.

“What we do know is there was a fire in one of the turbines and that tripped all of the units.

“All we’ve seen so far is some video footage but there was a fire that tripped the other three units and that then was a serious reduction of capacity in Queensland.

“Once our staff are able to get back on site and have a look around, we will have a better idea and we will be doing our best to bring on other plants if they are not damaged as quickly as possible.”

First photo from the Callide power station since the fire. (ABC News: Russell Talbot)

Queenslanders encouraged to cut back on power usage

The Australian Energy Market Operator is asking Queenslanders to reduce energy use.

The power restoration effort

Thanks, Phoebe!

Let’s start my blog shift by looking at how things are going getting the power back on before dinnertime.

In south-east Queensland it looks as though Energex has done a mighty job getting the lights back on for those who lost power this afternoon.

It looks as though homes and businesses around Ormeau are still affected.

Ergon Energy says it has 40 customers still experiencing difficulty.

Take care Queensland

Well it’s been a wild afternoon folks but I’m off.

I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Luke Royes... here to answer all your blackout blogging questions.

Until next time!

Photos from the scene

Any photos anywhere of the damage?

-haz

G’day Haz. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has set up a 550-metre exclusion zone while firefighting operations continue, which has made getting photos of the scene pretty difficult. 

We have reporters on the ground doing their best to bring you some visuals.

We have a chopper in the air getting aerial footage of the scene, which we will bring to you as soon we get our hands on it.  Hold tight!

So what do we know about CS Energy?

The Callide Power Station in central Queensland is operated by CS Energy.

According to the Australian Energy Regulator:

In February, CS Energy paid $200,000 in fines to the Australian Energy Regulator for “allegedly failing to ensure it could provide frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) it had offered to the market”.

FCAS manages the stability of the power system and stops electricity blackouts.

CS Energy also repaid $1.3 million to the Australian Energy Market Operator it received as payment to provide the services.

The regulator alleged CS Energy failed to ensure it was able to comply with its offers to supply FCAS at the Callide B power station in 2018, and Gladstone Power Station in November 2019 and January 2020.

In February, CS Energy chief executive Andrew Bills said he was“extremely disappointed” the incidents had occurred, and CS Energy had self-reported to the regulator.

Mr Bills said the company had improved its systems and “implemented remedial actions to minimise the risk of these or other issues arising again”.

Tracking Queensland’s energy output

You can track the energy Queensland is generating in real time here.

Traffic lights are a go in Brisbane

Good news…

After widespread traffic light outages, Queensland Traffic has confirmed all traffic signals across the Brisbane metropolitan area should be restored.

It comes just in time for the 5:00pm work knock off.

The incident tripped generators at other power stations

In a statement Stanwell Power Station said said three of its generators at Stanwell had tripped as a result of an event in the grid.

Their capacity was reduced from 365MW to 16MW.

“Stanwell Power Station operates four generation units, but one was already offline for planned maintenance,” the statement said.

“Stanwell is working with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Powerlink to gradually ramp the units back up to required capacity as demand returns to the grid.”

Stanwell’s Tarong power station in the South Burnett region is operating as per usual.

No injuries reported

CEO of Banana Shire Council Tom Upton said council was making sure continuity plans were underway to keep businesses working properly while the power was out.

He could provide no updates to the cause of the fire at the power station but confirmed where staff were being evacuated to.

“The reports that we’ve received suggest that there has been no injuries on the site and they are currently evacuating staff to the Biloela Civic Centre,” he said.

“We’re relying on Ergon and CS Energy to advice the community when the power will be restored. Council has a range of business continuity plans that will allow us to manage through the process at this stage.”

Other power stations to ‘make up the short fall’

Member for Callide Colin Boyce said efforts are under way to manage the fire.

“I have been in touch with my federal colleagues and they tell me the gas fired power stations in South Australia are being ramped up as we speak to make up the energy short fall,” he said.

“My understanding is [the incident] is being managed and controlled.

“CS energy’s Disaster Management team is on the ground dealing with the problem “.

Mr Boyce said he is not surprised an incident in central Queensland has had such widespread ramifications.

“Callide Power Station provides 16 per cent of the state’s power needs. It just highlights the fact that we rely on baseload coal-fired energy and it is a significant contributor to business and industry, and keeps the lights on in the south-east corner and across the state.

“There has been a generator failure of some sort. Obviously explosions and fires create significant damage I would think.”

Power slowly returning to parts of the state

Up to 400,000 customers initially lost power but, a short time ago, supplies to 300,000 had already been restored.

Power is back on on the Sunshine Coast.

The Gold Coast City Council have advised power has been restored atMolendinar, Helensvale and Stapylton Waste & Recycling Centres.

Power has also been restored at the Pimpama Sewage Treatment Plant on the Gold Coast.

Supplies to the Coombabah Sewage Treatment Plant are expected to be restored shortly.

Traffic lights are back up and running across Brisbane.

A pub with no beer

Helensvale Saltwater Creek Hotel owner Martin O’Brian said he had toevacuate customers.

“We had to empty the hotel because no tills, no beer, no pokies,” he said.

“Bang, lights out, and we very much sort of sat down in the dark for a minute, hoping it would come back on in a few minutes but no, we had to take everyone’s name and addresses.

“Can’t open tills, beer doesn’t flow … because of workplace health and safety we had to evacuate the building.”

He said customers got “sick of waiting around” and left the hotel when the power wasn’t restored until over an hour later.

Students at the University of Queensland didn’t let the darkness stop them from studying. Photo: Lachlan McDonald

300k homes with power restored

Minister for Energy Mick de Brenni told Queensland parliament that there were no reported injuries at the power station.

Mr de Brenni said while 400,000 customers had initially lost power, 300,000 homes had already had power restored, and further restorations were ongoing.

“There is a process in place to gradually and safely increase supplyfrom other power stations,” Mr de Brenni said.

“These scenarios are planned for and our recovery plan is already in place.

“Families returning home tonight could find traffic signals down and if your power is off, our message is that every effort is being made to restore it,” he said.

Posted 4h ago, updated 32m ago

A QFES spokeswoman said a turbine was on fire at the station and staff had been evacuated with a 550-metre exclusion zone having been set up while firefighting operations continue.

QFES has warned it was likely to be a “prolonged incident” and residents were urged to stay clear of the site.

QFES deputy commissioner Mark Roach said fire crews were working with power station staff to safely access the site.

Mr Roach said power was now off to the station site and any of the gases or chemicals had been disconnected or shut down.

He said QFES was working with Callide power station staff to get teams in breathing apparatus into the station to establish if there was still a fire, or if it had been extinguished.

A Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) spokeswoman said no patients were being treated.

Queenslanders have been urged to limit their power use where possible as the network struggles to maintain supply.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is requesting consumers in Queensland temporarily reduce their energy usage from 5pm to 9pm, where safe to do so.

Callide Power station with mounds of coal
The Callide coal-fired station supplies baseload electricity to the national grid from two sites.(ABC News: Hayden Cooper)

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni told state parliament while 400,000 customers had initially lost power, 300,000 homes had already had power restored and further restorations were ongoing.

CS Energy, the operators of the Callide station, tweeted it had “immediately acted following an incident” at the station and there were no reported injuries.

“At approximately 1:45pm today, a fire occurred in one of the turbine halls at the power station,” the statement said.

“As a result, the three units that were generating at the time went offline.”LIVE UPDATES: Follow along with the latest news on the power outage affecting much of Queensland

CS Energy chairman Jim Soorley has since said all staff and contractors are now offsite.

“There were no injuries, so we’re very lucky,” Mr Soorley said.

He said the site was now under the control of Queensland police and emergency services.

“Hopefully tomorrow our staff will be able to get back onsite and investigate what happened,” he said.

“What we do know is there was a fire in one of the turbines and that tripped all of the units … and then there was a serious reduction of capacity in Queensland.

“Once our staff are able to get back onsite and have a look around, we will have a better idea and we will be doing our best to bring on other plants if they are not damaged as quickly as possible.”

‘Catastrophic failure’

CFMEU local organiser Shane Brunker said it looked like the hydrogen-filled generator or the main turbine had  a “catastrophic failure”.

“[This may have] caused then an explosion and then ultimately the fire,” he said.

“The scenario of a hydrogen-filled generator exploding or failing mechanically, causing hydrogen leaks and then also oil leaks, is probably the worst-case scenario in a coal-fired power station.

“All the safety protocols were enacted straight away and it was a very speedy and efficient evacuation.

“All the workers have been bused into the community centre in Biloela and everyone has been accounted for.”

The coal-fired station supplies baseload electricity to the national grid from two sites, the 700-megawatt Callide B station and the 825-megawatt Callide C station.

Callide Power Station at Biloela in central Queensland.
Fire crews are working with Callide Power Station staff to safely access the site.(ABC News: Russell Talbot)

‘Significant power system event’

Energex and Ergon Energy said power had been restored to more than 250,000 customers in south-east Queensland, regional centres in Southern Downs and towns and cities up the coast as far as Cairns, but tens of thousands of Queenslanders were still affected.

There have been no reports of outages in western Queensland.

The AEMO said a “significant power system event” had occurred.

Mr de Brenni said there was process in place to “gradually and safely increase supply from other power stations”.

“These scenarios are planned for and our recovery plan is already in place,” he said.

Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the AEMO was investigating.

“Emergency events like this are matters we take very seriously, and we are working with the market operator to determine the impact and the cause of this event and restore power as quickly as possible,” Mr Taylor said.

“Our thoughts first and foremost are with the safety and the livelihood of 260 workers at the Callide power station and the many customers that rely on that power for their livelihoods.”

Power to traffic lights restored

Police officer directs traffic amid power outage in Alderley
Brisbane motorists have been asked to stay off the roads if they can.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

Queensland Traffic said all traffic signals across the Brisbane metro area should have been restored.

Australian Traffic Network reporter Adam Smith said it was “going to be a messy and long afternoon” in Brisbane.

Crashes had earlier been reported in Chermside on Gympie Road and in Aspley on Brisbane’s northside.

Brisbane airport said it experienced a 15-minute power outage at the international terminal from 2:15pm, but the domestic terminal was not affected and all power was now restored.

UQ students study amid Brisbane power outage on May 25, 2021.
UQ students study during the power outage this afternoon.(Supplied: Lachlan McDonald)

The Gold Coast University Hospital lost power earlier, with a spokesperson saying emergency generators were activated in critical areas of the hospital.

The spokesperson said both the Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital would remain on Code Yellow procedure, which indicates loss of essential services, for part of the afternoon while they investigated the impact.

The Gold Coast City Council said it had deployed generators to sewage pump stations at Coombabah and Pimpama, after several council assets lost power.

Bronwyn from Mount Nathan on the Gold Coast hinterland said the Nerang shopping centre also lost power, creating distress for some people trying to get medication.

“I was in the chemist and there was so much chaos,” she said.

“Some people weren’t coping well with not be able to get their medication.”

In the Wide Bay region, Rose Mckeown operates the Woodgate Beach General Store, south of Bundaberg.

“The power went off around two o’clock — there was no warning or nothing — it just went dead,” she said.

“All of Woodgate was out — the hotel, the bowls club, the friendly grocer, the post office — you name it, the whole place was shut down.”

She said she was forced to close her store for an hour and a half until the electricity came back on.

NSW customers lose power

The southern border towns of Tweed, Kingscliff, Cabarita and Pottsville have also been without power.

A spokesperson for NSW energy provider Essential Energy said tens of thousands of residents bordering the Gold Coast were left without power but it was returned by 3:30pm.

Brad from Cabarita said he was evacuated from the Tweed City Shopping Centre after hearing alarms.

“There are sirens going off everywhere … it’s quite dramatic — I was kicked out, evacuated out of Tweed City,” he said.

ABC/7NEWS/NSW/10NEWS/

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.25: 2021:

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