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Charlestown turbine settling won’t be an issue for Fairhaven, developer says

FAIRHAVEN – A Charlestown wind turbine, installed by the same firm building Fairhaven’s turbines, has been shut down until engineers can stabilize the ground beneath it.

The turbine, the same model as Fairhaven’s with a similar foundation design, was shut down after having settled more than expected in a regularly scheduled three-month test, according to Sumul Shah, Lumus Construction president.

Shah is one of three developers of Fairhaven’s wind turbines and his firm is installing two Fairhaven turbines near the town’s sewage treatment plant off Arsene Street.

But while the two projects share common traits, Shah is confident Fairhaven’s turbines won’t encounter the same problems for one main reason: Fairhaven’s turbines are being built on bedrock.

“Fairhaven is on bedrock and we’re drilling anchors into bedrock,” said Shah. “Rock doesn’t move.”

In contrast, the Charlestown turbine was built on a landfill.

“That’s the big difference,” said Shah. “I think the people of Fairhaven can rest assured there isn’t the same kind of issue there.”
The Charlestown turbine was shut down in January as a safety precaution but is not in any danger of falling over, Shah said.

“A turbine has more force on it when it’s running compared to when it’s not, so as a safety precaution we’re not running it,” he said.

On Friday, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which operates the turbine, posted a notice on its website acknowledging the settling and describing work being done to stiffen or reinforce the foundation.

“While the structure has settled, it remains level and plumb and all components remain operationally ready,” the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority wrote.

Shah said the plan is to inject grout into the ground, a solution that has succeeded in the past.

“The problem is it’s not stable enough, so we’ll add a cementitious material into the ground and it will make it more stable,” he said.