An investigation into the incident where a cane shredder ran out of control and ejected numerous blades at the Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara estate, earlier this month, has begun, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) says.
The accident saw a turbine-fuelled sugar cane shredder speed out of control, bursting the belt and ejecting the shredder blades on the morning of August 11th.
Luckily no one was hurt even as an employee daringly risked his life and manoeuvred through the chaos to shut off the turbine.
“There was an accident during start up. It was mechanical…they were starting up the turbine, the thing over-sped and it didn’t stop in time,” new Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo Harold Davis Jr had confirmed to Stabroek News a few days after the incident.
“There is a test that you do to test the turbine, it has to go at a particular speed, it went beyond that speed and the result [was] that it damaged the knife set. They are fixing it,” he had added.
However, a press release from GuySuCo on Tuesday said that it wanted to inform the public that an investigation into the incident has started and a senior management team, which includes several senior engineers, along with managers from the Human Resources and Health and Safety departments, is leading the investigation committee.
“The investigation commenced during last week and the accident is viewed as an engineering matter,” the statement said, while adding that the investigation is expected to be conducted over a three-week period.
It added that approximately 111 tonnes of sugar were declared from the sugarcane that was burnt at the time of the incident. However, as a result of the staling canes, the variance from the estimated sugar expected from the canes is approximately 68 tonnes of sugar.
After the incident, an employee had related to Stabroek News that the results of a preliminary assessment of the incident indicated that someone might have purposely tampered with the speed control of the belt.
“It was at the beginning of operations on Saturday morning. They had done some works on the knife turbine. It seems that someone interfered with it, someone made an adjustment. There is a governor that allows you to adjust the speed, but whatever they did, it went faster than it should operate,” he had said, while explaining that even at high speeds a safety mechanism is supposed to kick it.
“I am not sure if slow it down or stop it completely, but that unfortunately did not work and all the apparatus went flying out. Understand that the belt moves and the hammers cut up and crush up at the same time. So there are about 70 knives or hammers and when that [incident] was finished, only about six were left,” he added.
Because of the incident, milling had to stop but was resumed more than a week after as the sugar company was able to do the necessary repair works.
“The Corporation’s engineers and technicians have been working continuously to ensure that the downtime for the factory was minimal. Hence, the damaged parts for the turbine, knife shaft and knives were sourced and replaced speedily.
“The Corporation’s engineers have assured that all of the necessary safety checks have been carried out on the turbine as recommended by the manufacturer and as stated in the operations and maintenance manual. The factory has since been handed over for grinding operation to recommence”, a statement from the corporation had said.
Even though some losses were reco0rded, GuySuCo said that with good attendance and a focused management and staff, the estate is set to achieve its Second Crop target of 10,780 tonnes. The other two estates will produce the remainder of the target for the crop, 68,045 tonnes of sugar; with Albion Estate projected to produce 38,160 and Blairmont Estate 19,105.