Earthing Systems are enclosed by fences, peppered with warning signs and simply look dangerous, yet people still tamper with their mortality.
Last month, vandals, fuelled with liquid confidence from ‘drinking lager’, broke into a substation compound in Castletown, Isle of Man. Tampering with cables and the high voltage switchgear they caused extensive disruption.
However, a fault occurred and the electrical energy that resulted spread out, attaching itself onto anything it could find. Luckily for the vandals, the grounding systems saved their lives.
Highly Technical Earthing Systems
Due to the electrical earthing systems in place, the spread of electricity was contained and the vandals were able to swagger away unscathed. It was because of this earthing system that Manx Utilities power network picked up a signal coming from the substation. This alert was crucial in limiting the damage caused.
11,000 volts were exposed as engineers investigated the scene which was later confirmed to have been intentionally damaged. The warning signs are not there to look pretty – there is serious danger!
Electricity is not a toy – it’s a killer
Although these Castletown vandals were not harmed, that was not the case for another unfortunate individual at a Perry substation in America. In this case, two men, armed with wire cutters intent on stealing scrap pieces of copper (another issue GreyMatters tackles), scaled the substation and one touched a high voltage cable, fatally electrocuting himself.
“We saw a huge bolt of light come from the powerstation down there that lit up the whole place” said a witness.
The fact that the man was set on fire and later died in hospital really highlights the danger of substations and the need for electrical earthing.
Although these recent incidents ended differently, the intent was the same. For people to ignore the warning and put their lives in jeopardy implies that something is going wrong somewhere. Do we need more secure fences? An electric fence to give thieves a small sample of what could happen perhaps? Or does this problem run deep on a social level? Is the scrap copper market so lucrative people are willing the risk their lives for it? Desperate times.
This is why electrical earthing/grounding is so important – damage limitation. It also prevents mass disruption and saves companies money. Electricity is not a toy – it is a killer. But can it be tamed?
GreyMatters exists to saves lives and protect critical assets from the dangers of high voltage power systems (including lightning) by using the latest in software simulation techniques and anti-theft.
Written by N Cardwell, GreyMatters