Recently a commercial wind turbine in Altona caught fire and collapsed. There were sounds like explosions coming from the turbine before the collapse.
We know about this catastrophic failure of a turbine chiefly because neighbors told us, and someone called 911 to have local fire companies dispatched to the site.
The owner of the wind farm, Noble Environmental Power, was issuing generic press releases within hours of the incident.
When a WPTZ Channel 5 News crew arrived at the wind farm, they found the road blocked by Noble trucks.
No member of the media ever got to the site of the collapsed turbine. And no one from the media ever talked to anyone from Noble on the record.
What that means is that Noble Environmental had a plan. At some point in the past officials sat around a table and decided only generic press releases would be issued, the road would be blocked, emergency personnel would be told to say nothing, etc.
Then when there was a disaster they carried out that plan.
The Press-Republican used aerial photos a local pilot had taken of the collapsed turbine. The photos showed it laying there smashed and blackened by flames.
That’s just the kind of image Noble was trying to prevent.
You can bet those officials will be sitting around a table again soon and brainstorming on ways to deal with this unauthorized information. Look for people to be ordering large tarps at area farm supply stores.
That way the leaders at Noble can activate Plan 9 and issue Press Release 24 without fear that anyone in the public will actually learn anything about what happened.
Since wind turbines have been coming down all over the world, Noble officials probably figured it could happen here. But instead of transparency they chose secrecy.
Based on what neighbors of the downed turbine said about it starting to rotate at unusually high speed before the explosion-like sound and fall, a possible cause could be failure of the braking system.
Look at this Web link to see turbine brake failure in action: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3FZtmlHwcA&e
Days later, Noble issued another press release saying they found a “wiring anomaly” in the turbine that collapsed.
What’s that mean? Who knows? Noble officials won’t explain.
They only issue press releases.
Updated March 26: It now looks like Noble also uses our Speakout column of anonymous opinions.
Probably part of their plan.
The Speakout entry “Report facts” printed today slams the Press-Republican for asking questions about the collapse, and includes the statement: “Noble did an excellent job of making sure that no one was injured on the day of the turbine mishap.”
Guess only Noble employees would know that. The details were never released to the press or public.
Another Speakout item a couple days ago also berated the paper, and that one touted Noble as a major employer.
The writer may be confusing construction workers with permanent employees. It takes lots of people to build a wind farm, but only a couple to run it when it’s built.
Glad to see they’re reading, though.
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