Man killed when wind tower collapses

Man killed when wind tower collapses »Play Video
The photo shows the collapsed wind turbine tower. Photos courtesy of Brian Hulke.

NEAR WASCO, Ore. - A giant wind turbine tower collapsed Saturday in Eastern Oregon, causing a worker to fall to his death and another man to be injured.

The man killed is from Goldendale, Wash., while the second man is from Minnesota, according to Deputy Geremy Shull of the Sherman County Sheriff's Office.

The man from Minnesota was at last check listed in serious but stable condition at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Shull said.

He did not release the names of the men.

The incident happened about 4 p.m. at a wind farm about six miles east of the town of Wasco in Sherman County, Shull said. Portland-based PPM Energy owns the wind farm but Florida-based Siemens Power Generation manufactured and owns the wind turbine tower that collapsed.

Melanie Forbrick, a Siemens spokeswoman, said three people were at the site when the accident happened, two of whom were Siemens Power Generation employees and a third a contractor.

Shull said the worker killed in the incident was at the top of a turbine tower when the support column holding the turbine buckled about halfway up and toppled over. Forbrick said the injured man was inside of the tower at the time while the third worker, who escaped injury, was at the base.

She said the turbine had been in operation for 500 hours and the workers were doing a routine inspection.



Forbrick said federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials were on site Sunday investigating.

"We are very saddened by this event and our sympathy goes out to the families and the workers as well," Forbrick said.

Forbrick said she did not know how the height of the turbine. Bonneville Power Administration documents from last year said the turbine towers would stand 263 feet high and reach about 400 feet with blades included.

The Klondike III wind project, located in the wheat fields near Wasco, is expected to generate 221 megawatts of electricity when it's completed in late 2007, said Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for PPM Energy. PPM is using 44 Siemens 2.3 megawatt wind turbines and 80 General Electric 1.5 megawatt wind turbines.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.