Part of wind turbine breaks and lands in open field - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Part of wind turbine breaks and lands in open field

by Danielle Wagner

WAVERLY (KWWL) Part of a wind turbine under construction broke apart Saturday morning.

The problem started Friday when construction crews were installing a second wind turbine for Waverly Light and Power.

During the process, a construction error caused the rotor and blades to start moving in the wind prematurely - spinning uncontrollably and unable to stop until it broke.

Wesley Cark with the turbine manufacturer said the blades weren't in the proper position during installation.

"Once the blades are feathered, then remove the lock pin, slowly rotating the blades. What they did was they removed the lock pin, the blades starting spinning, the tit bags come off and we evacuated the site," said Clark.

Two families near the site were also evacuated as a safety precaution.

"Under normal circumstances when operating everyday, there are many, many fail safes that allow us to control the speed of the blade. There a number of things we can at the site or remotely," said Waverly Light and Power General Manager Diane Johnson. 

In this instance, the fail safes weren't in place yet, so there was no way to stop the blades.

"What we experienced with cannon II is highly unlikely. It's very, very rare that it every happens," said Johnson.

Everyone hoped the wind would stop long enough for crews to tie off the blades, but that didn't happen. The rotor and blades were no match for the powerful wind.

While sitting in a vehicle near the site, KWWL reporter/anchor Danielle Wagner heard what sounded like a loud rush of wind and watched as part of the wind turbine flew off into an open field. The blades appeared to bend in the air as it blew off the tower, flying through the air.

The broken piece missed nearby equipment and empty vehicles barricading off the site, ending the suspense and danger.

After the stressful situation, Waverly Light and Power General Manager Diane Johnson told me she's just thankful no one was hurt.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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