Two Dead in Kosovo Coal Plant Explosion

 Two workers were killed and at least 14 injured in an explosion at a coal-fired power plant in Kosovo last week. Plans to restart part of the damaged plant were underway on Thursday.

The explosion, which could be heard six miles away in the capital, Pristina, occurred at about 10 a.m. on June 6 in the “electrolytic part” of the 449-MW Kosovo A power plant, Kosovo power utility KEK reported. Economy Minister Fadil Ismajli later told reporters that the accident occurred when a hydrogen tank exploded in a part of the power station that is separate from its generators. However, the cause of the accident has reportedly not yet been determined.

By 8 p.m., after searching for missing persons that were reported in the area at the time of the accident, the company was able to confirm two fatalities had occurred. The 14 reported injuries are not life-threatening, KEK said.

The 40-year-old Kosovo A and the 520-MW Kosovo B produce about 90% of the country’s power. The Balkan country still suffers chronic blackouts nearly 16 years after the Kosovo war, which resulted in its political and economic separation from federal Yugoslavia.

The European Union has described the plant as the worst single source of pollution in Kosovo, and it is expected to be permanently shuttered in 2017. Kosovo, meanwhile, has petitioned the World Bank to help it finance a new power plant to increase reliability and leverage its lignite reserves, which are the fifth biggest in the world. The World Bank, which has said it will avoid coal except in exceptional circumstances, recognizes that Kosovo’s reliance on coal could boost the country’s economy.

On Thursday, meanwhile, KEK said it would likely restart one of three 130-MW units of the Kosovo A plant. Initial damage from the plant is estimated at about $1.4 million.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

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