Siemens, Oregon State Officials Investigate Fatal Wind Turbine Collapse

August 29, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Investigators from Siemens Power Generation and the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division have started to examine the wreckage from a wind turbine tower that collapsed in Eastern Oregon. The tower fell as two workers were performing a scheduled inspection. Chadd Mitchell, 35, a Siemens employee, was killed when he was working at the top of the tower and it fell. Bill Trossen, a contract worker who was midway up the inside of the tower, was hospitalized for a broken thumb.

An OSHA spokesman said the regulatory agency will look for possible flaws in the tower’s engineering and try to determine whether safety and health rules were violated. The investigation may take as long as four months.

PPM Energy owns the wind farm, but Siemens manufactures and owns the wind turbine tower that collapsed. According to the company, the cause of the collapse had not been determined, and the turbine had been in operation for 500 hours.

Siemens suspended inspection and maintenance work on its turbines worldwide in the immediate aftermath of the collapse. "We just wanted to take some precautionary measures." said Melanie Forbrick, a spokeswoman based at the company’s North American headquarters in Orlando, Florida. She said the turbine blades were manufactured in Denmark and the towers in the United States.