Didcot power station: homes without electricity after towers demolished

Power has been restored to tens of thousands of homes in Oxfordshire that were left without electricity after the demolition of a disused power station’s cooling towers.

Explosive charges were used to bring down the 375-ft (114.3m) high towers of Didcot A at 7am on Sunday.

Onlookers shared footage of the blast on Twitter, which appeared to show nearby electricity pylons set ablaze moments after the three concrete towers collapsed.

The energy company Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed that at least 40,000 of its customers in South Moreton, North Moreton, Didcot and the surrounding areas were affected by a fault to its main network.

Thom Airs

Forget the cooling towers coming down – a pylon just exploded! Caught the tail end of it. #didcotpowerstation pic.twitter.com/pso2NN1B3E

August 18, 2019

The company confirmed that electricity has been restored to the affected homes.

“Shortly after 7am this morning, SSEN received reports of damage to its network at Sutton Courtenay, following the demolition of the nearby Didcot power station,” an SSEN spokesman said. “An investigation is under way as to the cause of the incident and SSEN is working with all relevant authorities. Further details will be shared once they are known.”

He added that initial information suggested the demolition was not linked to the outage but that it was now being considered a possible cause.

The demolition work, carried out by the contractor Brown and Mason, comes three-and-a-half years after four workers were killed in a major incident. Christopher Huxtable, 33, Kenneth Cresswell, 57, John Shaw, 61, and Michael Collings, 53, died after the partial collapse of the boiler house at the Didcot A plant in February 2016.

Thames Valley police and the Health and Safety Executive launched a joint investigation to consider corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and health and safety offences.

It took months to retrieve the bodies from the rubble of the 10-storey concrete and steel building – which, due for demolition, collapsed unexpectedly – prompting criticism from the men’s families.

The disused plant’s chimneys will be demolished in the autumn, according to RWE, the German utilities company that owns it.

Didcot A ceased operation in 2013 after running for 43 years. Three of its towers were demolished in 2014.


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