High-level Fury: Snowstorm Broke 10,000 Sub-standard Electricity Poles

A recent report, purported to come from the Beijing News (新京报), exposes massive electrical pole failures in Guizhou during this winter’s freak snowstorms. Despite appearing to have been removed from the newspaper’s website, the report has spread widely on other sites, including Boxun, with many commentators wondering what about the story might lead it to be suppressed. Translated by CDT:

A strange phenomenon occurred with electrical poles being used in in the city of Kaili, in Guizhou Province, during this year’s snowstorm disaster. While older poles have remained standing, as many as 90% of new poles put in place during a recent reconstruction of the rural power grid failed. It was discovered that more than 10,000 of the broken poles were lacking steel reinforcement. High-level officials at the Southern Power Grid Co., furious at the news, have ordered an investigation.

Under normal circumstances, one would expect the old poles (erected in the 1950s and ’60s) to break first, particularly since newer poles are built using more advanced technology. But this was not the case. During the snowstorm, power failures in many places were caused, not by the snow itself, but by problems with the quality of electrical poles. According to reports, the failed new poles were reinforced with brittle No. 8 iron wire rather than standard rebar.

On February 23, bosses at Southern Power Grid summoned 41 electrical equipment suppliers to a meeting where they emphasized the need to guarantee the quality of equipment being used in the disaster relief effort. Director Lu Liuchun and vice director Li Sen, both of the Southern Power Grid’s supervision bureau, said future quality-related equipment failure would result in suppliers being expelled from the Southern Power Grid market.

March 2, 2008 12:04 AM
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